It seems whenever Melania Trump walks outside, she manages to ignite conversation—and criticism. Her latest project won’t be changing that trend.
On March 5, the First Lady tweeted, “I am excited to share the progress of the Tennis Pavillion at @WhiteHouse. Thank you to the talented team for their hard work and dedication.” The tweet also included photos of Trump in a hard hat, going over plans at the construction site.
According to CNN, “The tennis pavilion will be located on the South Lawn of the White House, near the Children’s Garden, which was constructed in 1968 at the behest of first lady Lady Bird Johnson, and the Kitchen Garden, the 2,800 square foot garden planted by first lady Michelle Obama in 2009.”
The project was first announced last October when FLOTUS said, “It is my hope that this private space will function as a place to gather and spend leisure time for First Families.”
But the photo op—staged while America combats a global and growing health crisis as coronavirus takes hold—feels a little out of step with the fear and nerves that are spreading in tandem with the virus. Never mind the destruction in Tennessee due to the tornadoes that hit Nashville earlier this week. People on social media were quick to call this out.
“It is not the fact that tennis courts are being built at WH that is at issue (by all means, build them), it is the ignorance surrounding the optics of voluntarily promoting these private benefits during the ongoing public health & financial crisis,” one person tweeted. The First Lady also drew comparisons to Marie Antoinette.
This is certainly not the first time Melania Trump has been accused of striking a tone-deaf note. Who can forget her infamous “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” jacket while visiting a shelter housing children separated from their families at the U.S. border. “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message,” said Stephanie Grisham, the First Lady’s then spokesperson.