Do we have to say it? Don’t bully children in the press
We’re living in a very fractious and partisan time — a time when people will say just about anything in order to deprecate the other side. But when it comes to a politician’s underage children, there’s no place for comment, let alone critique. That’s why we’re so glad to see Melania Trump and Chelsea Clinton coming together to condemn The Daily Caller, which devoted an entire article to 11-year-old Barron Trump’s clothing choices.
In a stunning article titled, “It’s High Time Barron Trump Starts Dressing Like He’s In The White House,” entertainment reporter Ford Springer used photos of the first family’s recent return from New Jersey to criticize the boy’s clothing.
You know, the way grown-ups do.
Amidst photos of Barron wearing shorts and a t-shirt, Springer writes: “Time and time again Barron has proved that he’s just a normal 11-year-old kid…One thing that isn’t normal though is the way he dresses when he joins his parents for a public appearance.”
Sorry, we’re going to need some smelling salts because we must be hallucinating. Did this grown man just say on a public media platform that the way a pre-teen dresses “isn’t normal”? The boy is wearing shorts and a t-shirt in August! He has on a t-shirt with no holes in it and no stains, clean and neat khaki shorts (which really don’t even count as shorts in our book — they’re more like short formal pants), a belt (a belt!!!), and suede loafers. Let’s repeat that last one: Suede. Loafers. Y’all.
This kid looks better than my kids do on class picture day. More importantly, he looks like a kid. Sure, he’s there with his dad in a full suit and his mom dolled up in a gorgeous dress, but his dad is the president and his mom is…well, she’s Melania Trump. What should Barron be wearing coming back from a family weekend away? A “blazer and tie,” as the article suggests? We’re more impressed with the fact that he was allowed to dress like a regular 11-year-old boy than we would be if he was wearing a suit with his hair slicked back. and even then, it would be none of our business.
Chelsea Clinton, who understands what it’s like to grow up in the White House and live in the public eye, took to Twitter to give her thoughts on the article:
It's high time the media & everyone leave Barron Trump alone & let him have the private childhood he deserves https://t.co/Wxq51TvgDX
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) August 21, 2017
Dear Matty-Barron is A KID. No child should be talked about in the below manner-in real life or online. And for an adult to do so? For shame https://t.co/p9jkGbMG4C
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) August 22, 2017
Clinton knows what it’s like to have the media comment on your looks during your most awkward and sensitive phase — she was famously teased about her appearance by both Rush Limbaugh and Saturday Night Live during her father’s presidency, which began when she was just 13. It’s hard enough being a kid that age — can you imagine if the worldwide press was making fun of the way you looked?
Eight months into his father’s presidency, Barron has already faced his share of awful public comments, from an SNL writer who called him “the first homeschool shooter” (she was suspended by the show and later apologized) to a viral YouTube video speculating that he’s autistic (Melania Trump threatened to sue and the video was taken down.) None of it is okay. None of it.
We don’t care if you’re from the left, like Saturday Night Live, or the right like The Daily Caller. We don’t care if the politician in question is universally loved or detested. As far as we’re concerned, the media should act like a politician’s children don’t exist. They should be saying, “Barron who? Doesn’t ring a bell.” He should move through the public sphere like a ghost. This kid has been saddled with fame and a controversial father through no fault of his own, and we should all keep his name out of our mouths.
For Pete’s sake, this kid is going to be the new kid at a Washington, D.C. middle school, and he’s going to have secret service agents in math class with him. Doesn’t he have it tough enough?
Happily, if there is one thing that both political parties can come together about, it’s that making fun of kids in the media is wrong. On Tuesday night, the First Lady thanked Clinton on Twitter for supporting her son:
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) August 23, 2017
Say what you will about Melania Trump, that woman loves her son and is doing her best to keep him safe in what is an increasingly toxic environment. It’s unfortunate that we have to say so, but for her to publicly thank a Clinton was a bold move, and one that we respect.
Even if it’s just about clothing, even if it’s just a writer like Springer making fun of a little kid by saying things like, “The youngest Trump doesn’t have any responsibilities as the president’s son, but the least he could do is dress the part when he steps out in public,” we all need to stand up and say that it is never, ever acceptable to criticize a child in the media, no matter who their father is.