How can Donald Trump’s campaign genuinely fight cyberbullying when he mocks and ridicules people on social media regularly?
That was the question on critics’ minds when his wife, Melania Trump, pledged to fight for women and children and spoke about the dangers of cyberbullying during a Thursday speech in suburban Philadelphia.
“Our culture has gotten too mean, too rough, especially to children and teenagers,” she said. Many conservatives and liberals agree that there’s been a coarsening of civility, but some also believe that Trump’s often acerbic rhetoric is part of the problem.
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper asked Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway during a tense interview Thursday night why it’s not OK for kids to bully each other, but it’s acceptable for adults like Trump to do so.
“Well, it’s really not OK for anyone to do it with malicious intent,” Conway replied, “but I hate to break it to the political class or even the media, but most of what’s on Twitter is not about politics or journalism.”
But Cooper persisted: “The question is doesn’t this start at home? Isn’t the problem at [Melania Trump’s] own dinner table?”
“No, it’s not at her own dinner table,” she said. “The fact [is] that her husband’s running for president and defends himself sometimes or tweets things out. Look at all of his tweets. What about his tweet about what he would do in the first 100 days?”
“Talking about Carly Fiorina’s face was not a counterattack, a counterpunch. That was just mean,” Cooper said, referring to one of Trump’s insults against the former Hewlett-Packard CEO early in the Republican presidential primaries.
Conway pointed out that Trump subsequently walked back that attack during a GOP primary debate.
“He went on a national stage in front of tens of millions of people, I would presume, and said that she has a very beautiful face, that she’s a beautiful woman,” she said.
But it’s not just Fiorina who’s been the target of Trump’s Twitter barbs. For years, the celebrity businessman has denigrated his critics and foes before his millions of Twitter followers.
Among other tweets, Trump shared a photo that ridiculed the looks of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s wife when the two men were vying for the GOP’s presidential nod. He also threatened to “spill the beans” on her.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2016
Lyin' Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad. Be careful, Lyin' Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2016
The billionaire businessman also retweeted supporters who called Fox News journalist Megyn Kelly a “total failure” and a “bimbo.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2016
I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct. Instead I will only call her a lightweight reporter!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2016
Trump has also called businesswoman Arianna Huffington unattractive “inside and out” — echoing earlier insults toward actress Rosie O’Donnell.
.@ariannahuff is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man- he made a good decision.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2012
Film legend Kim Novak has said that she didn’t leave her Oregon home for months after Trump insulted her looks when she made a rare appearance at the age of 81 at the 2014 Oscars ceremony.
I'm having a real hard time watching the Academy Awards (so far). The last song was terrible! Kim should sue her plastic surgeon! #Oscars
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2014
But liberal activist and Hillary Clinton supporter Van Jones defended Melania Trump’s antibullying speech during a Thursday night appearance on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
“Here’s the deal from a political point of view — she does something good and then we beat her up for doing something good,” Jones said. “Somebody wants to stand up to bullying in this election and we’re going to beat her up for it?”
He said that she is not a “political wife” and got hurt by the “political machine” for her partially plagiarized speech at the Republican National Convention. He added that Melania Trump should be applauded for her ability to keep moving forward.