First Lady Melania Trump called for “healthy online behavior” on Wednesday, referring to a key tenet of her “Be Best” initiative to improve children’s welfare.
Around the same time, her husband, President Donald Trump, repeatedly insulted Democratic candidate Mike Bloomberg on Twitter and, in all caps, threatened to sue some law enforcement officials who displeased him.
While accepting Palm Beach Atlantic University’s “2020 Women of Distinction Award” in Palm Beach, Florida, the 49-year-old first lady said, “We live in an age where too many people allow the number of retweets or likes to define their self-worth. I am convinced now more than ever that teaching healthy online behavior is crucial to securing a safer future for our children.”
The first lady’s anti-bullying campaign, a major part of “Be Best,” has regularly been criticized as hypocritical given President Trump’s social media use, however.
The president also tweeted complaints about the “fake news”; Robert Mueller, who led the Russia investigation; and the “impeachment hoax,” in which he was accused of abuse of power in the Ukraine scandal. (The Senate’s Republican majority acquitted him.)
In December, the president directed his social media ire at young climate activist Greta Thunberg, then 16. Trump tweeted that she needed to “chill” and “work on her anger management” — one week after the first lady had defended their son, Barron, who was sarcastically referenced by a witness during testimony in Trump’s impeachment trial.
“A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics,” Mrs. Trump wrote on Twitter in response to Stanford Law School professor Pamela Karlan, who made a pun about President Trump using Barron’s name.
A spokeswoman for Mrs. Trump said at the time that she and her husband “communicate differently.”
The president also used Twitter to mock Thunberg in September and on other occasions, including when the he made a fuss over the teenager being named TIME’s “Person of the Year.”
The Trump re-election campaign also photoshopped Thunberg’s TIME cover to place Trump’s face on her body.
Is corrupt Bloomberg News going to say what a pathetic debater Mini Mike is, that he doesn’t respect our great farmers, or that he has violated campaign finance laws at the highest and most sinister level with “payoffs” all over the place?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2020
“Raising emotionally healthy children starts with teaching them how to make responsible decisions,” Mrs. Trump said on Wednesday, according to CNN. “It is our job as adults to pass along wisdom and build children’s confidence, so they have the best opportunity to succeed in life.”
Palm Beach Atlantic University President Bill Fleming presented Mrs. Trump with her award. She also received a standing ovation from the crowd of some 550, according to The Palm Beach Post.
“America’s first lady has sounded the call for action,” Fleming reportedly said. “She serves as a role model with brilliance, elegance and grace.”
But Mrs. Trump’s appearance at Wednesday’s ceremony to accept the “Women of Distinction Award” from Palm Beach Atlantic University drew some criticism from local students.
“This award has historically gone to women whose character and impact in Palm Beach has shaped the culture of our home, and I have not been convinced that the first lady’s character or impact here is worthy of that recognition,” Graysen Boehning, a senior studying biology and zoology at the university, told The Hill. “While many students were excited that the school was bringing in the first lady of the United States to speak, others felt that her character was not representative of the community of love for people of all backgrounds and beliefs that PBA houses and fosters.”