Melania Trump fired back at Food Network host and stand-up comedian John Henson on Sunday after Henson tweeted a joke about her 14-year-old son, Barron. Henson joked that President Donald Trump is not really Barron's father in honor of Father's Day. The First Lady lamented that her son should be to grow up "without hate from strangers."
Melania's chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, issued the First Lady's response to Henson in a statement published by The Hill. "Sadly we continue to see inappropriate and insensitive comments about (President Donald Trump's) son," it read. "As with every other administration, a minor child should be off-limits and allowed to grow up with no judgment or hate from strangers and the media."
Henson has now deleted the tweet, which read simply: "I hope Barron gets to spend today with whoever his dad is." However, the comedian is still defending the remark, saying that the teenage Barron was obviously not the real target.
"The joke was aimed at Trump and the mere mention of Barron’s name doesn't mean it's at his expense," Henson tweeted in response to critics. "Although I respect your right to take issue with it." As the story picked up traction, Henson referenced it once more on Tuesday, tweeting: "thinking about a run of jokes on Kellyanne Conway next."
This is not the first time Melania has come down hard on any reference to Barron included in criticisms of the Trump administration. Back in December, Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan mentioned Barron in the midst of her testimony at the president's impeachment hearing. The first lady's angry retort nearly buried Karlan's testimony altogether.
"A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics," Melania tweeted at the time. "Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it."0comments
Karlan did issue a public apology, though critics wondered where Melania's outrage was for her own husband's bullying tactics. Many pointed out Trump's references to underage climate change activist Greta Thunberg, or his commentary on the gun control protests led by the survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting.
I'll leave this for the hypocrites pic.twitter.com/W2p8PSNLYj— EssDeeEff (@Coffee_Anon20) June 22, 2020
To critics, this double standard is especially infuriating because the first lady's chosen initiative is the Be Best campaign — an effort to promote public awareness of cyberbullying in the hopes of eradicating it. Some suggest that this should start with the president's prolific Twitter account.