President Trump on Wednesday assailed the media for what he described as “vicious” coverage of first lady Melania Trump’s weeks-long absence from the public eye following her hospitalization last month.
“The Fake News Media has been so unfair, and vicious, to my wife and our great First Lady, Melania,” Trump tweeted. “During her recovery from surgery they reported everything from near death, to facelift, to left the W.H. (and me) for N.Y. or Virginia, to abuse. All Fake, she is doing really well!”
On Monday, Melania Trump appeared alongside Trump at a White House reception honoring Gold Star families. It was closed to the press, but she tweeted photos from the event showing her seated next to the president, and a video posted to social media showed her arrival.
It was the first time the first lady had been seen publicly since May 10 — four days before she underwent what the White House said was a successful procedure to treat a benign kidney condition.
Melania Trump’s time away from the spotlight — and the White House’s silence about her condition — led to some wild speculation and conspiracy theories online. But contrary to the president’s claim, the mainstream media did not embrace suggestions that she had had a face-lift, been abused or was near death.
On the other hand, Trump has long spread conspiracy theories on a wide range of topics. And last June he publicly described “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski as “bleeding badly from a face-lift” during an earlier encounter. Trump was widely criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for the personal attack.
Joe Scarborough, Brzezinski’s co-host and fiancé, was quick to note the hypocrisy of Trump’s complaint about the coverage of Melania.
“I agree that it would be ‘vicious’ and ‘unfair’ to lie about a loved one having a facelift for the purpose of causing pain and embarrassment,” Scarborough tweeted. “Mr. President, can you imagine anyone would be so cruel to do such a thing?”
“I can’t even imagine,” Brzezinski quipped.
President Trump also suggested on Wednesday that reporters who saw Melania Trump last week did not report the sighting. Several reporters, though, did.
“Four reporters spotted Melania in the White House last week walking merrily along to a meeting,” Trump tweeted. “They never reported the sighting because it would hurt the sick narrative that she was living in a different part of the world, was really ill, or whatever. Fake News is really bad!”
Melania Trump made her first appearance before the press since her hospitalization at a hurricane season briefing at FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday afternoon, although she did not speak, at least while the press was present.
President Trump, seated next to her, thanked the first lady for being present in his opening remarks.
“She went through a little rough patch,” the president said. “But she’s doing great.”
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