Melania Trump has lashed out at “self-serving adults” for focusing on her falling out with a friend and adviser.
Mrs Trump also sharply criticised Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the former friend and aide who recently wrote a tell-all book about the friendship, her role in helping produce President Donald Trump’s inauguration and her work helping the first lady set up her office.
“We all know that more often than not, information that could be helpful to children is lost in the noise made by self-serving adults,” the first lady said in a blog post.
“I have most recently found this to be the case as major news outlets eagerly covered salacious claims made by a former contractor who advised my office.”
When the media chooses to focus on self-serving individuals & salacious gossip instead of work to help our next generation, it needs to be talked about: ⬇️ https://t.co/0VIv1DcG35
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) October 16, 2020
While it is relatively rare for first ladies to push back so strongly against negative coverage, Mrs Trump has repeatedly spoken out about her critics.
Katherine Jellison, a history professor at Ohio University who studies first ladies, said Mrs Trump’s response was “not from the usual first lady playbook.”
“Typically, they ignore any scandalous reporting about themselves or make some brief, non-contentious statement,” Ms Jellison said.
Ms Wolkoff, in addition to her book, also released audio recordings in which the first lady is heard complaining about having to decorate the mansion for Christmas.
In other recordings, she downplays the conditions in which migrant children separated from their parents were housed in US detention centres at the Mexico border, and refers to Stormy Daniels as the “porn hooker”.
Ms Daniels is the adult film actress who has said she slept with President Trump during his marriage to Melania Trump. The president has denied the relationship.
The first lady, who recently recovered from Covid-19, claims Ms Wolkoff “hardly knew me” and describes her former long-time friend as “someone who clung to me after my husband won the presidency”.
“This is a woman who secretly recorded our phone calls, releasing portions from me that were out of context, then wrote a book of idle gossip trying to distort my character,” Mrs Trump wrote.
She accused Ms Wolkoff of “dishonest behaviour,” but offered no examples, “all in an attempt to be relevant”.
“These kinds of people only care about their personal agenda — not about helping others,” the first lady said.
Her complaints served to resurrect coverage of Ms Wolkoff and her claims, which had largely been overshadowed by news that the Trumps had contracted coronavirus.
Ms Wolkoff did not immediately respond Friday to an emailed request for comment. She wrote in the book about her work on President Trump’s inauguration and blamed the first lady for not defending her after questions arose about excessive spending by the committee.
Ms Wolkoff was an unpaid White House adviser to the first lady until February 2018, when her contract was terminated. Her book chronicled a years-long relationship with the first lady and their regular lunches and emoji-filled text exchanges.
Mrs Trump chastises news outlets for focusing their coverage “on pettiness over my positive work”.
“There are plenty of opportunists out there who only care about themselves, and unfortunately seek to self-aggrandize by knowingly taking advantage of my goodwill,” she said.
She seemed to also direct her comments toward anyone who has questioned her “Be Best” youth initiative to promote child wellbeing, combat opioid abuse and encourage positive behaviour on social media.
“Anyone who is focused on tearing things down for their own gain, after knowing what I stand for, has lost sight of what we are here to accomplish and who we are here to serve,” the first lady said.
“To push forward a personal agenda that attempts to defame my office and the efforts of my team only takes away from our work to help children.”