What is the media obsession with what the Trumps do for each other’s birthdays? It’s been one of the most vexing (and vexatious) aspects of the lightweight coverage of the White House thus far.
First, we saw a media frenzy over the fact that the president only got Melania a card and flowers for her birthday. This gave way to headlines like “Donald Trump ‘too busy to buy Melania’s present for 48th birthday” and “LIZ JONES: Buying a birthday gift for Melania Trump takes less time than a combover, Donald.”
Trump revealed this, mind you, during the same “Fox & Friends” interview in which he revealed Michael Cohen had worked for him to secure non-disclosure agreement from Stormy Daniels, so there was actual news to report. And while they did report it, instead of analyzing what this means, they simply chased it with, “And did you hear what the guy got his wife for her birthday? The cad!”
Trump’s birthday on Thursday was no less of an occasion for a series of stories, all dealing with how Melania allegedly snubbed the president on his 72nd.
Elite Daily — which may indeed be daily, but that’s where the name’s aptness peters out — published one of the stories typical of the media’s Trump birthday obsession: “Melania Trump’s Birthday Message For Donald Is Pretty Fitting, & I’m Here For It.”
“Even though Thursday is Donald Trump’s birthday, first lady Melania Trump has yet to mention it at all on social media. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m having a serious case of deja-vu right now,” the article read.
“On April 26, Donald Trump didn’t tweet for Melania’s birthday even though he was plugging his appearance on ‘Fox & Friends’ that day. Of course the first lady might be spending some time with the birthday boy in person, but perhaps this is her way of having some subtle for her birthday snub?”
The article went on to cite tweets from Trump’s children and body language experts examining their appearances in public for clues as to how their relationship is. Very scientific, indeed.
Other headlines and musings about the birthday: “Melania Trump flew to New York for ‘meetings,’ skipping the president’s birthday” (Yahoo News), “Why didn’t Melania Trump wish Donald happy birthday?” (U.K. Express) and “Melania Trump Spent Her Husband’s Birthday Away from Her Husband” (Vanity Fair).
Except, here’s the thing: She didn’t.
In an interview Friday, Trump made it clear that the first lady was there at least part of the day to celebrate.
Check it out here. (The birthday part starts about the 50-second mark.)
The president told Steve Doocy that he got “a lot of good kisses. I got a lot of phone calls from people that I would have never gotten phone calls from. I got phone calls from — “
“Who’d you get the kisses from?” Doocy asked.
“From my beautiful wife,” Trump said, destroying the media narrative in a few short words. “Who’s really doing great. She’s doing great. And my kids.”
So, in other words, she was there for his birthday — she just didn’t follow him around all day, since she was in New York City for meetings until she returned to Washington. Can we get a ruling from the body language experts on whether or not that counts as problematic?
The president and first lady are busy people, especially when you consider that Melania just had kidney surgery. Furthermore, these are the same people who, during the Obama and Clinton years generally kept to the party line that nobody ought to care about what happens inside the confines of the family (this was suspended somewhat during the Lewinsky scandal).
That’s been gleefully thrown out the window during the Trump years, so much so that we’re now ruminating on whether Melania spent enough time with the president on his birthday and whether she should have wished him a happy 72nd on social media. This is where we are, people.