During Thursday’s edition of Anderson Cooper 360, CNN Political Analyst Kirsten Powers weighed in on First Lady Melania Trump’s controversial jacket choice, describing her as the Marie Antoinette of the Trump Administration and later arguing “she’s like a teenager literally, like this is something a teenager would do, although honestly, a teenager that was a child of a President would not do this typically.”
First Lady Melania Trump headed to McAllen, Texas on Thursday, one day after her husband signed an executive order that would end separation of children and families entering the country illegally while maintaining a “zero-tolerance” policy for all illegal immigrants entering the country at the US-Mexico border. During her surprise trip to the border town, Mrs. Trump visited the Upbring New Hope Children’s Shelter, overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, which serves as a shelter for illegal immigrant children between the ages of 12 and 17. She had planned to visit the Ursula Border Patrol Center as well but had to cancel her appearance because of severe flash flooding.
As she boarded a flight to Texas at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, the First Lady wore a green jacket with the words “I Really Don’t Care. Do U?” written on the back. She wore the same jacket as she returned home Thursday evening. She did not wear the jacket during the tour of the facility.
While the First Lady’s spokesperson said the jacket choice had no hidden meaning behind it, President Trump suggested on Twitter that the back of her jacket meant to serve as a message to the “fake news media”: “‘I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?’ written on the back of Melania’s jacket refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are and she truly no longer cares!”
Host Anderson Cooper introduced the segment admitting that “by all accounts,” her trip to Texas “went well.” He then pointed out the positive headlines “were eclipsed by this…the words on her jacket.” After reading aloud the tweet from President Trump, Cooper brought in Dana Bash and Kirsten Powers to discuss the jacket racket.
Powers compared the First Lady to Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France guillotined during the French Revolution: “I think this is their core message that they don’t care, that she would go down there and do this it tells us everything that we need to know. I mean, she’s officially the Marie Antoinette of this Administration that should just say, let them eat cake. That is literally the message he is sending, that they just don’t care about what’s happening there.”
Powers also pointed out that it was not jacket weather in Washington, D.C., which meant that it was certainly not jacket weather in Texas; a fair criticism. She then suggested that the message on the back of Melania’s jacket reflected her true feelings about the children housed in detention facilities in border towns: “I’m just going to take it at face value and just say Melania doesn’t care.” Anyone who actually saw Mrs. Trump’s televised appearance at the Upbring New Hope Children’s Shelter would not draw such a conclusion.
While Mrs. Trump probably could have chosen to wear a different jacket, or no jacket all because of the warm weather, the media once again proved that they could not resist blowing the situation out of proportion; making a mountain out of a molehill. The media will continue to portray the Trump Administration as heartless and cruel as they continue fanning the flames that divide the country regarding immigration all the way to the midterm elections.
Read full transcript below:
Anderson Cooper 360
ANDERSON COOPER: The First Lady today visited a child detention facility in McAllen, Texas, by all accounts, it went well. However, those headlines were eclipsed by this…the words on her jacket, “I really don’t care. Do U?” which we showed you at the top of the broadcast. She wore it going up the stairs on her way to Texas, then was wearing again when she landed. Now, keep in mind, it was 81 degrees today in Washington, and she’s wearing a full-length jacket. As we mentioned at the top, her spokesperson’s claim that she wasn’t sending a message was actually then contradicted late today when the President himself tweeted about it. Just remind you, here it is: “‘I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?’ written on the back of Melania’s jacket refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are and she truly no longer cares!” CNN’s Dana Bash, on the other hand, truly does care about the story behind all this. She joins us now, along with CNN Political Analyst Kirsten Powers. So, Dana, first of all, you hear the President’s explanation which obviously contradicts the First Lady’s own spokeswoman. Let’s just stick through the other possible ways of interpreting this jacket, either tone-deaf or trolling directed not at the news media but rather somewhere else or a staff who either couldn’t or wouldn’t raise a red flag beforehand or perhaps a combination of all three.
DANA BASH: I think it’s a combination of all three is the more likely of those scenarios, and then there’s just what we don’t know, which is obviously a lot. What we do know, Anderson, as you very eloquently pointed out, that this was no question intended to send a message. And the irony of this is that the message was…had a code that has been so hard to crack that even the staff in the West Wing and I guess the East Wing, the First Lady’s staff, have had mixed messages about what the coded message on his, her jacket could be. I mean, it would actually be comical if it weren’t about the First Lady completely stepping on the message that was supposed to be the one of the day, her going down and being the only person at this senior level from the Trump Administration to see firsthand what is happening with some of the children. No, it wasn’t one of the most, you know, one of the tender-age facilities, but it certainly was and is one where there are children who are in need, illegal immigrants who were brought over, many of them came…most of them came over unaccompanied, but some of them, about a handful of them were separated from their parents.
BASH: The one other point I want to make is that just by way of knowing that this was a big deal inside the West Wing among people the President and his staff, Melania Trump when she came back wearing that jacket again knowing on the plane full well that this was a big thing came back and walked to the President’s office, to the Oval Office, along the colonnade which by all accounts does not happen. She doesn’t go and visit the Oval Office when she got when she gets back. And Jeff Zeleny, our White House correspondent reports, that she, he heard from a source who saw her in the Oval Office right upon arrival with Kellyanne Conway and Mercedes Schlapp and she was still wearing the jacket having a discussion.
COOPER: Kirsten, I mean, it’s Crisis Management 101 to not distract from your core mission. I mean, if you’re on a journey of care, a visit to show you care, to wear a giant sign that says “I don’t care,” it’s…I do not…I literally thought it was a joke, I thought someone had, you know, put that up on Twitter and sort of you know doctored it or photoshopped it.
KIRSTEN POWERS: Right, but I think this is their core message that they don’t care, that she would go down there and do this it tells us everything that we need to know. I mean, she’s officially the Marie Antoinette of this Administration that should just say, let them eat cake. That is literally the message he is sending, that they just don’t care about what’s happening there. And again, it was…it was…I was in Washington this morning. Nobody’s wearing jackets, first of all. Second of all, this is a woman who spends a lot of time very carefully picking out what she’s going to wear. She’s very fashionable. This was not an accident. This was intentional. So I think, then the President tweets out, well, it was all about the fake news, which also just again shows that they don’t care if that’s what it was about because…I’m sorry, but it’s a much bigger deal what’s happening there on the border with people who really haven’t broken the law contrary to what we’re being told. They’re seeking asylum, that’s not illegal. There’s no reason to be locking them up without their children, this is not how it was handled in the past. So, I’m just going to take it at face value and just say Melania doesn’t care. I mean, I don’t think we need to overanalyze it.
COOPER: Dana, what’s interesting about this though is in the…her spokesperson’s initial statement in which is said, look, there was no message to it, the last line in the statement was something along the lines of…you know, I hope you don’t make this a story about what she’s wearing implying how stupid it would be for the media to be focused on what she’s wearing. But I mean, again, she’s wearing a giant sign that says “I don’t care, do U?” going on a mission that’s supposed to show how she cares, and then the President takes the time…the most important person on the planet, takes the time to craft some sort of a tweet coming up with some belabored explanation, that’s what he’s spent time doing today.
BASH: Right. Well, exactly and it’s the basic notion that her spokeswoman initially said, it’s just a jacket. There’s no message. And then her husband, the President sends a tweet which is, you know, just absolutely not believable in the least, saying that she was trying to say that to the, to the fake news media. I’m not so sure that if this is a Marie Antoinette moment, I think that you’re right, Kirsten, to sort of try to take it at face value and maybe we are overanalyzing it. But with Melania Trump, because she does use her wardrobe so often to send messages, not as blatant as this that were actually scrub…you know, written in paint on the back of a jacket, but things like the pussy bow after the “Access Hollywood” tape came out, or the big white hat or the white outfit around the Me Too Movement, she was sending a message, and she was wearing it in Washington with her back turned towards Washington. So, my sense is that she was trying to send a message to somebody in Washington and it backfired.
POWERS: But grow up. I mean, I’m sorry, how old is she? This is like high school stuff. We’re talking about…we were just listening earlier to children crying and sobbing for their parents…
BASH: You’re absolutely right.
POWERS: And she’s like a teenager literally, like this is something a teenager would do, although honestly, a teenager that was a child of a President would not do this typically. So, she needs to grow up if that’s what she’s doing and she needs to talk to her husband and work things out, because people are going to see this around the world. I mean, how does this feel to people who are watching this and, you know, seeing this and they’ve been separated from their children and this is what she thinks is the most important thing?
COOPER: I also think…I know, we’re going to…we’re going to stop this first. But I also think if you do the experiment of had a former, another first lady done this in the past, had Michelle Obama gone to a disaster or crisis wearing “I don’t care, do U, or Laura Bush, I mean, people’s head would explode, or Hillary Clinton, the idea that, you know, people are probably on the Republican side, the President’s supporters are going to, you know, bash the media for reporting on this even though the President devoted crucial time today that…to talk about this and make up an explanation. Dana, Kirsten, thanks.