First lady Melania Trump on Monday unveiled a list of priorities for her time in the White House: “well-being, social media use, and opioid abuse.”
Soon, however, Ryan Mac of BuzzFeed News noticed something about one of the documents on the White House website devoted to the first lady’s platform: Trump had simply repurposed a 2014 Federal Trade Commission manual, “Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online.”
It was now called “Talking With Kids About Being Online” and included Trump’s advice in a forward: “So what is the best way to protect our kids online? Talk with them. Communicate your values clearly so your kids can make thoughtful decisions when they face tricky situations.”
Otherwise, it was a blatant rip-off, a potentially damaging one given Trump’s brush with plagiarism during the presidential campaign. But the White House wasn’t sorry.
“The FTC approached us to include this as a good resource and we were happy to do so,” Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the first lady, told TPM in an email Monday night. “It is a government resource, which is meant to be distributed.” Grisham pointed to a diplomatically worded blog post from earlier in the day by the FTC’s Nate Wood that acknowledged working with the first lady.
By Tuesday, Grisham appeared somewhat frustrated, releasing yet another statement:
“Despite providing countless outlets with ample background, information, and on-the-record comments from the FTC, some media have chosen to take a day meant to promote kindness and positive efforts on behalf of children, to instead lob baseless accusations towards the First Lady and her new initiatives.”
Our office will continue to focus on helping children and I encourage members of the media to attempt to Be Best in their own professions, and focus on some of the children and programs Mrs. Trump highlighted in her remarks yesterday.
Unrepentant, yes, but not unchanged. An updated report from BuzzFeed News noted:
Be Best’s website changed the language describing it from “a booklet by First Lady Melania Trump and the FTC” to “a FTC booklet, promoted by first lady Melania Trump”.