Food Network star John Henson recently tweeted about Donald Trump’s son, Barron. He stated, “I hope Barron gets to spend today with whoever his dad is,” referring to Father’s Day. The tweet quickly made the rounds on social media and caused a bit of a stir with the First Lady. The tweet was immediately condemned online for being inappropriate and insensitive. Melania’s spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, was quoted as saying: “Sadly we continue to see inappropriate and insensitive comments about the President’s son, (Barron Trump.)” After Henson’s tweet went viral, he said it was a joke about Trump, not Barron. Melania has previously stated that minor children should be allowed to grow up without judgment from others.
Barron was also mentioned back in December during the impeachment hearings. Pamela Karlan, a Stanford Law professor, stated: “The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the President can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.” The quote did not go unnoticed by Melania, and she later said: “A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it.” Karlan apologized for the comment.
Is it ever okay to publicly comment on the first children? There’s long been an unspoken rule that the President’s children are off-limits when it comes to mean-spirited criticism. Their parents try to shield them from as much media attention as possible. However, in the age of social media, not everyone abides by that rule. During the Obama administration, Sasha and Malia were the subjects of a negative post about the way they were dressed and how they behaved at an official event. The woman who made the comment was met with a firestorm of criticism herself and lost her job. Before that, President George W. Bush’s daughters, Barbara and Jenna, were also taken to task a few times for not always behaving appropriately.
Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s family paid the price for being in the spotlight on many occasions. Chelsea Clinton was targeted for appearance. The most prominent defenders against these types of attacks are the previous first children. When these statements were made about Barron, Chelsea Clinton stated the President’s children should be off-limits. Jenna Bush Hager defended President Obama’s children also. There have been several books written about the media’s treatment of presidential children. Targeting first children is usually met with negative comments directed at whoever made the statement in the first place. Because first children did not sign up for public scrutiny, they should be left alone. However, once the children are adults and decide to go into the public arena, they are fair game.