CNN’s depictions of First Lady Melania Trump

In wake of the Kathy Griffin photo that shocked many Americans on Tuesday, which shows Griffin holding a bloody severed head that appears strangely similar to that of Donald Trump, officials expressed their overall negative reactions towards the photo.

President Trump claims that Griffin “should be ashamed of herself” as the photo has affected his 11-year-old son, Barron, in traumatic ways.


Though Griffin has apologized and faced consequences for the photo, media outlets continue to depict the story from different “celebrity perspectives.” Specifically, this story made me think of the different ways a single media outlet can portray a single person. In this case, First Lady Melania Trump.

I decided to look at how CNN has depicted the First Lady subtly throughout two stories from her plagiarized speech incident last year to the Kathy Griffin encounter.

Trump’s speech writers possibly plagiarized much of a speech by former First Lady Michelle Obama last July. The speech was highly scrutinized, in which USA Today claimed “the ensuring uproar [of the speech] would overshadow Melania Trump’s introduction on the national stage.” I read this as she cannot be taken seriously due to her writers’ mistakes. While she has the responsibility to ensure her words are crafty with integrity, she did not write this speech verbatim.

CNN specifically wrote a story on how no one from the speech writing team will be fired from this incident. CNN used a quote from campaign chair Paul Manafort in the story.

“These are common words and values,” says Manafort. “To think that she’d be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.”

The subtext here is that Trump speaks plainly and commonly. Possibly her speech wasn’t captivating enough to sway the attention from the plagiarism.

160719_view_melania_16x9_992Sean Spicer was also quoted in the article comparing Trump’s speech to a ‘My Little Pony’  quote. Essentially, he drops Trump’s values to the importance of fictional children characters.

Back to the Kathy Griffin photo, Trump expressed her disdain for the affair. CNN’s headline depicted Trump in a saddened, but uplifting light: “Melania Trump’s strong words about that Kathy Griffin photo.” This is vastly different than the childish appearance ascribed to her in the previous article. But she still receives little pay off from the article, as most of the story revolves around Donald Trump’s reaction and Griffin’s reasoning for the photo and plea for forgiveness.

In all, Melania Trump receives the literal short end of the stick when it comes to representation in the media. Though she attempts to strengthen her presence through tweets like the Kathy Griffin one, she still is outcasted by her husband and remains the ‘My Little Pony’-esque complication.


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