White House Slams 'Opposition Media' For Stories on 'Be Best' Pamphlet

The White House is hitting back on stories suggesting that First Lady Melania Trump was taking credit for an online safety pamphlet produced in the Obama Administration

She recommended the pamphlet, Talking with Kids About Being Online, as part of her 'Be Best' campaign to promote the well-being of children and to insure that children are "both seen and heard," but that they do it carefully online. 

But reports soon followed that the pamphlet was almost identical to one, Chatting with Kids About Being Online, produced by the FTC during the Obama Administration, with the only changes an intro by the First Lady and info about the "Be Best" campaign. 

That recalled the flap over a Republican convention speech by the First Lady that did include passages similar to a speech by her predecessor, Michelle Obama, at the Democratic convention.

"Today, First Lady Melania Trump introduced her initiative to help children everywhere be their best," said Nat Wood, associate director, Consumer and Business Education, for FTC. "At her launch event at the White House, the First Lady distributed copies of Talking with Kids About Being Online, a guide to help parents and other adults have thoughtful conversations with kids about being safe and responsible online. We’re excited that the First Lady is sharing this important information with families across the country."

In a statement, the White House slammed the stories from what it termed "opposition media."

"After giving a strong speech that was met with a standing ovation and positive feedback, the focus from opposition media has been on an educational booklet, 'Talking with Kids About Being Online' produced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2009. Mrs. Trump agreed to add 'Be Best' branding and distribute the booklet in an effort to use her platform to amplify the positive message within. She said in yesterday’s speech, she is going to use 'Be Best' to promote people and organizations to encourage conversation and replication, and helping the FTC distribute this booklet is just one small example.

"Despite providing countless outlets with ample background, information, and on-the-record comments from the FTC, some media have chosen to take a day meant to promote kindness and positive efforts on behalf of children, to instead lob baseless accusations towards the First Lady and her new initiatives."

The White House said it will continue to focus on kids and advised the media to "attempt to Be Best in their own professions, and focus on some of the children and programs Mrs. Trump highlighted in her remarks yesterday."  

According to various reports, the White House originally billed the pamphlet as "by First Lady Melania Trump and the Federal Trade Commission," but changed the credit line to an FTC booklet that she was promoting as part of the campaign.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.