“After giving a strong speech that was met with a standing ovation and positive feedback, the focus from opposition media has been on an educational booklet, “Talking With Kids About Being Online,” produced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2009,” the first lady’s spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, tweeted Tuesday. “Mrs. Trump agreed to add Be Best branding and distribute the booklet in an effort to use her platform to amplify the positive message within. As she said in yesterday’s speech, she is going to use Be Best to promote people and organizations to encourage conversation and replication, and helping the FTC distribute this booklet is just one small example.”
Grisham added that the media was attempting to “lob baseless accusations towards the First Lady and her new initiatives” and “I encourage the media to attempt to Be Best in their own professions.”
On Monday, 16 months after President Trump took office, Melania launched her official first lady’s initiative, called “Be Best.” In the White House Rose Garden, wearing a tan $5,990 Ralph Lauren short trench coat, a white pencil skirt, and Christian Louboutin white pumps, Melania outlined her multipart plan, which focuses on emotional health, combating opioid abuse, and responsible social media use.
“As a mother and as first lady, it concerns me that in today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions and oftentimes turn to forms of destructive or addictive behavior, such as bullying, drug addiction, or even suicide,” said Melania. “I feel strongly that as adults we can and should be best at educating our children about the importance of a healthy and balanced life.”
Many on social media were quick to criticize the speech, in part for the perceived randomness of the plan, which combines vastly different issues, and for the seeming hypocrisy of promoting online kindness, given the president’s controversial social media habits.
However, when the White House released a portion of Be Best online, many claimed it was a cut-and-paste job from an Obama-era document called “Net Cetera — Chatting with Kids About Being Online.” Some also pointed out that the slogan “Be Best” was too similar to a remark made by Michelle Obama during a 2016 White House Summit with Oprah Winfrey at which she gave this succinct advice to men when it comes to parenthood: “Be better.”
According to The Hill, after the backlash began, the White House changed the wording of the document from “By First Lady Melania Trump” to “Promoted by First Lady Melania Trump.”
— Luvvie Ajayi (@iLuvvit) May 8, 2018
And congrats to Michelle Obama, whose program Flotus copied.
— Jenny Gattone (@TheWriteJennyG) May 8, 2018
So In 2016, Michelle Obama encouraged men to "Be Better", fast forward to 2018, Melania Trump launched "Be Best". I am not saying anything please.
— Bhadmus Hakeem (@Bhadoosky) May 7, 2018
Melania Trump's "Be Best" initiative on kids & internet safety appears to re-use a 4-year-old document from the Obama FTC https://t.co/SEMP2QNFNl
— Tom Dreisbach (@TomDreisbach) May 7, 2018
Melania has been accused of emulating Michelle before — at the 2016 Republican National Convention, Melania gave a speech that many felt was way too similar to one Michelle gave at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
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