Update: Government ethics watchdog group CREW is suing the Treasury Department for records related to the flight to Kentucky that kicked off Louise Linton's Instagram scandal.
After an initial apology, Louise Linton told Washington Life last week she was trying to portray what she thought was an appropriate public image. But, she said, that isn't her.
"I was trying to create this public image that was elegant and stylish, but that was just so clueless because I should have focused on who I really am instead," she said.
And in regards to the criticism? Linton said: "I feel like I deserved the criticism and my response is 'thanks for waking me up quickly and for turning me back in the right direction.'"
This story was originally published on August 17, 2017.
President Trump was elected on the promise of helping average Americans, but his administration has had many PR missteps that make it seem woefully out of touch. The latest in this string of blunders is Louise Linton belittling another woman on social media Monday night for having less money than her.
Linton, a Scottish-American actress married to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, posted a photo on Instagram of her getting off a government plane during a day trip to Kentucky with her husband and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Along with hashtagging all the expensive brands she was wearing, Linton also tagged Tom Ford, Hermès, Roland Mouret, and Valentino in the photo to really drive home how costly her glamorous outfit was.
And when Jenni Miller, a mother of three from Oregon, commented, "Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable," Linton fired back.
"Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable!” Linton responded in an Instagram comment. "Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country?"
She continued to talk down to Miller for (she assumed) not having as much money as her, adding, "I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did." Linton then called the commenter "adorably out of touch" and told her to go watch the new Game of Thrones. Linton's response message was 167 words long and included four emojis (two of them kissing faces).
After Linton's online feud was called out on Twitter, she deleted the post and made her account private. But on the internet, screenshots live forever.
Expensive clothes aren't the issue: First ladies and other powerful women in presidential administrations wear expensive clothes no matter who's in power. The issue here is Linton's ostentatiousness on social media; the fact that Linton tagged all her designer labels and used her wealth to belittle another woman online. Her account of the sacrifices she's made for her lifestyle highlights how out of touch she is with average Americans.
Linton's husband, who she married in June, is worth as much as $500 million. Mnuchin made his money in investment banking, first at Goldman Sachs and later starting his own hedge fund. His bank was accused earlier this year of refusing loans to people of color and avoiding placing branches in minority communities.
Despite the president's promise to "drain the swamp" during his campaign, Trump filled his Cabinet with millionaires, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. While running for president, Trump positioned his own wealth as evidence that he's a good businessman and thus could run the country well.
At the same time, he claimed to be fighting for normal people in middle America and everyone who "believes that government should serve the people — not the donors, not the special interest." He even praised the working class, and said he considers himself "in a certain way to be a blue collar worker " (in reality, his father gave him a $1 million loan when he was starting out). There have been worries that Trump's excessively wealthy administration can't relate to and won't fight for the average American, and Linton is fanning that fire.
Like the president, Linton comes from money (her family is estimated to be worth $30 million and owns Melville Castle outside Edinburgh), and talking down to women she sees as "lesser" on Instagram is just the latest way she's given the world a peek at her blinding privilege. She released a book last year called In Congo's Shadow that checks every box of "white savior complex" and is full of racist stereotypes and false descriptions of Zambia.
Her insulting book highlighted how little she knows about African countries. Her recent Instagram tirade shows how little she knows about what life is like for average Americans.
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