The Left’s Double Standard on Attacking a President’s Children

Donald Trump with Barron, Melania, and Ivanka on election night, November 9, 2016. (Reuters photo: Mike Segar)
Whether a politician’s children are fair game has long depended on partisan politics, not principles.

No clear-thinking conservative attacked Barack and Michelle Obama’s children over the last eight years. Sasha and (until recently) Malia Obama are just teens, and no matter how nasty politics gets, for the most part decent people (and the media) go out of their way not to make the children of politicians the story.

Or at least, they do if the politician is a Democrat.

Consider what Rosie O’Donnell recently said about Barron Trump, the youngest child of President-elect Donald Trump. The cantankerous comic, who joined and left The View not once but twice, sent an outrageous tweet about the ten-year-old boy:

“Barron Trump Autistic?” she tweeted. “If so—what an amazing opportunity to bring attention to the AUTISM epidemic.” O’Donnell’s tweet featured a link to a video analyzing the boy’s behavior. The clip speculated that the boy’s movements suggested he suffers from a form of autism.

Raising awareness for a condition by “outing” a child who doesn’t even necessarily have that condition is beyond the pale. Celebrities occasionally do raise awareness for important causes, but it’s done proactively by adults who understand the consequences. Take Michael J. Fox, for example, who has used his own experience of Parkinson’s disease as a platform to raise awareness about the condition and raise money for research for a cure.

Barron Trump is a child who didn’t sign up to be a role model.

Although many people on social media erupted in anger over O’Donnell’s tweet, she offered only a weeks-late and grudging apology. There was no crush of op-eds decrying her comments. Her future job prospects will remain as they were before the tweet. We didn’t even hear from autism groups (many of whom have celebrity spokespeople) about O’Donnell’s behavior.

Why not? Because it was Donald Trump’s child caught in the crosshairs.

Even Trump’s grown children are now considered fair game for his critics. The #GrabYourWallet campaign aimed at Ivanka Trump hopes to succeed in getting stores to stop carrying her retail products, thus harming her business. As well, the Halt Action Group recently started an anti-Ivanka Instagram account that juxtaposes glamorous images of Ivanka with captions from people who are angry about her father’s election. “Dear Ivanka,” one caption reads, “I’m an American Muslim and I was attacked on the subway,” as if Ivanka was somehow personally responsible for this supposed attack.

Dear Ivanka, I'm an American Muslim and I was attacked on the subway

A post shared by Halt Action Group (@dear_ivanka) on

Some people might argue that the adult children of presidents are fair game, especially if they campaign for their parents; if so, then why is it that Trump’s adult children have come under far greater scrutiny and attack than Chelsea Clinton, who has lived off of her parents’ largesse since they left the White House, and actively campaigned for her mother during both of Hillary’s failed presidential bids? The mainstream media writes puff pieces about Chelsea (and covered her wedding as if she were royalty — oh, wait, the New York Times actually declared that she is royalty); it was left to conservative media outlets to report on Chelsea’s misuse of Clinton Foundation funds and other ethical lapses, as well as her future plans to run for Congress.

This isn’t the first time the children of GOP politicians have been targeted, of course. Remember when Saturday Night Live aired a sketch mocking President George W. Bush’s daughters following his reelection? It depicted the duo as dim-witted party girls who questioned their own father’s worth as a leader. Later, when Mitt Romney ran for the Oval Office, SNL mocked his grown children as robotic and stiff.

No outrage ensued.

Although the media (properly) refrained from writing about the Obama children when they were still kids, Malia Obama is now an adult. She recently made headlines when a video surfaced of her smoking marijuana at a party that the cops eventually had to shut down. Why didn’t SNL jump on that story, as they did when the Bush daughters had some drunken adventures?

Perhaps the most outrageous attack on a GOP politician’s child came from Bill Maher. Here’s what the HBO star said in 2011 in an attempt to slam former Alaska governor (and vice-presidential candidate) Sarah Palin:

And when I point out that Sarah Palin is a vainglorious braggart, a liar, a whiner, a professional victim, a scold, a know-it-all, a chiseler, a bully who sells patriotism like a pimp, and the leader of a strange family of inbred weirdos straight out of The Hills Have Eyes, that’s not sexist. I’m saying it because it’s true, not because it’s true of a woman.

For non-horror fans, The Hills Have Eyes features a mutant family that murders strangers for sport — and when Maher calls the Palins “inbred weirdos,” he’s including in that group the Palin’s youngest son, Trig, who was born with Down syndrome. Imagine the outrage if it were a Democratic candidate’s special-needs child being maligned.

Mainstream-media hypocrisy is nothing new, of course, but left-leaning pundits and journalists are setting a new low with their treatment of Donald Trump’s children. Disagree with Trump’s political views all you want to, but don’t attack his children. That’s not playing fair. That’s deplorable.

— Christian Toto is a conservative movie critic and the founder of He writes for Acculturated, where this piece originally appeared. It is reprinted with permission.

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