White House: Melania's anti-bullying campaign 'really not about bullying per se'
One of the ‘main pillars’ of Melania’s Be Best campaign is fighting against online bullying and encouraging kids to ‘speak with respect and compassion.’
A spokesperson for Melania Trump tried to claim that the first lady’s “Be Best” campaign isn’t actually about bullying, but rather about “online safety” — a blatant lie that is disproven by the White House’s own statements about the campaign.
Stephanie Grisham gave her revised description of what the Be Best campaign is about during a Tuesday morning appearance on MSNBC, in which host Hallie Jackson asked Grisham about the hypocrisy of Melania Trump’s anti-bullying efforts given that Donald Trump regularly targets people online through his Twitter account.
That’s when Grisham made this false statement:
I think there’s constantly this misconception that it’s about online bullying, which of course gets tied to the president. It’s about online safety, and it’s about teaching children that there are predators out there online and that they need to really watch out who they’re talking to online and what they’re doing.
And it’s also about children who spend hours and hours and hours online instead of going out into the air and playing with friends and socializing.
So, it’s really not about bullying per se. It can be mean, it can be manipulative, she’s said that over and over again, but it’s about online safety as a whole, because children are in such a technical world now.
In fact, online bullying is one of three main pillars of the Be Best campaign.
“Mrs. Trump believes that children should be both seen and heard, and it is our responsibility as adults to educate and reinforce to them that when they are using their voices — whether verbally or online — they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion,” reads a White House website about the Be Best initiative.
The website lists as a “highlight” that Melania Trump “Participated in [the Department of Health and Human Services] Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit on Cyberbullying and provided remarks promoting the need to provide children with information and tools for safe online habits.”
And just a cursory glance through recent White House statements on the Be Best campaign shows that it focused on bullying.
A March 28, 2019, news release said Melania Trump was visiting a school in Palm Beach County, Florida, because it has a “special program designed to eliminate bullying in the classroom” that is “in line” with the Be Best campaign.
The White House celebrated the anniversary of the Be Best campaign on May 7, 2019, with Melania Trump saying in a statement: “I have always said that as a mother and as First Lady, it concerns me that today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world can make children less prepared to express or manage their emotions, causing them to turn to forms of destructive actions such as bullying, unhealthy habits, risky online behavior, drug abuse and addiction, or even suicide.”
And on Oct. 4, 2019, Trump issued a presidential proclamation on Child Health Day that celebrated the first lady’s Be Best campaign.
“From bullying and negative social media interactions to the impacts of the opioid crisis on themselves and their loved ones, we must do more to foster an environment that promotes a culture of respect for every human life,” Trump wrote in the proclamation. “That is why I am proud of the work our First Lady, Melania Trump, has undertaken through her BE BEST initiative.”
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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