The XX Factor

Melania Trump Reads to Kids in a Hospital—and Is Read by the Press Pool Report in Return

First lady Melania Trump arrives at the East Room of the White House prior to a joint news conference on Feb. 15 in Washington.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Press pool reports may have gotten spicier since Donald Trump’s election, but a dispatch from the first lady’s visit to the pediatrics unit at New York-Presbyterian Hospital on Thursday is beyond. Four hot peppers! Extra rice advisable. Melania Trump spoke to doctors and children to celebrate National Read Across America Day, as well as the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Here is how the White House described the meeting:


To recap: Mrs. Trump shared the joy of reading with children.

She gathered with children in the pediatric playroom and read to them from her and her son’s favorite book.

She instilled some lovely life lessons about the importance of reading.

She uttered some beautiful sentences, including, “Dr. Seuss has brought so much joy, laughter, and enchantment into children’s lives all around the globe for generations. Through his captivating rhymes, Dr. Seuss has delighted and inspired children while teaching them to read, to dream, to care.”


And here is how the pool reporter/sushi chef described the visit/diced the first lady into raw, quivering pieces:


Almost every statement in this document is a cut, a stroke of restrained contempt liberating an extremely stilted and uncomfortable Melania statue from the marble. The tone, though, is also tragic. The report conjures a bonanza of unbearable awkwardness—of silence, looking, forced-smiling, and waiting—that derives in part from Trump’s seeming despair.

In a small room … First Lady Melania Trump sat in a wooden chair and looked at several children in the room.

I already feel embarrassed. Does she know how to sit on a hard surface? Why is she just staring at the sick kids?

“We will read some books today,” said Trump. “So do you know what is today?” she said. The children looked at her blankly.


Wow, she’s really connecting to her audience. She has a politician’s touch! And, given her advocacy for the written word, not the best grammar.


She was wearing black stilettos, a soft, blue sweater, and a long black coat. She had a huge diamond ring on her left hand ….


When she got to a passage in the book about a “slump,” she looked at the children and said, “So sometimes you don’t feel good, right? But then – what do you do?” The children waited.

Perhaps the FLOTUS and the kids are about to find some common ground. She’s just admitted (poignantly) that sometimes she is sad. They are in a hospital, which means they probably don’t feel awesome. So what’s her advice?


“You go places where you feel better,” she told them.

Hmm, that doesn’t sound very motivational. Also, what if you can’t get in to the better place because of the travel ban?

She read: “You’ll be as famous as famous can be,” and continued: “With the whole wide world watching you win on TV.” She smiled at them.

Wait a second. That is a terrible moral! Of all the quotes to pull from Seuss’s poem, our pool reporter has chosen to highlight lines about fame and media exposure as a possible consolation for unhappiness. Is the idea that the White House is a place you can go to “feel better” about marrying a gross misogynist maybe-despot? Are we to believe that the world’s attention fills a void in the first lady’s heart, or just humiliates her?


A moment later she read: “Remember that life’s a great balancing act.”

This is getting so real. Remember, kids, that life is a series of dispiriting compromises in which you sacrifice your integrity and desires for money and security.

After she finished, she looked at the children and said: “Do you like the book?”


One girl held up her hand.

Fake news.

Trump gave her the book and said: “I encourage you all to read a lot—to get educated.”

Perhaps there are lessons in books that could save you from my fate!

Then she posed for pictures with several of the children.

Woof. More like National Read Melania’s Tush to Filth Across America Day.