Why does Melania Trump care so much about cyberbullying? Simple: ”I could say that I’m the most bullied person in the world,” the first lady of the US told ABC news journalist Tom Llamas in an interview with the broadcaster last week. ”One of them—if you really see what people [are] saying about me.”
It’s true that Trump is often the butt of online jokes and criticism—from the #FreeMelania campaign, which asserts that she’s being held captive in the White House agains her will, to recent complaints over her colonial fashion statement on her trip to Africa. But “most bullied person in the world” seems like a bit of an overstatement.
Trump has made the crusade against bullying a central part of her mission as first lady. But while she’s sensitive to personal attacks when they’re directed at her, her past behavior shows that she doesn’t always rally to the defense of others.
In 2016, for example, journalist Julia Ioffe wrote a profile of Trump for GQ, including previously unknown facts about her life in Slovenia, after which she received anti-Semitic death threats. Ioffe got phone calls from a blocked number that played speeches by Adolf Hitler, was sent cartoons of people being shot in the back of the head, and received pictures of herself turned into Auschwitz-style mugshots.
Yet back in the days before launching her anti-bullying campaign, Trump seemed to minimize Ioffe’s experience with online hate. “There are people out there who maybe went too far,” she admitted. But, she added, Ioffe had only herself to blame: “She provoked them.”