With Donald Trump as President, upon my first glance at the newspaper each morning I ask, “What fresh hell is this?” This morning’s edition carries an especially odious story. Melania Trump has refiled her lawsuit in a federal court in New York against the Daily Mail over her claim that it falsely accused her of working for an escort service in the past. Her first filing in Maryland was dismissed on procedural grounds.
In August, the Daily Mail ran a story reporting that a Slovenian periodical had run an article stating that Mrs. Trump, a Slovenian native, worked as a high-end escort before marrying the New York mogul. The Daily Mail retracted the story.
Nevertheless, Melania hired Charles Harder, an American attorney, to attack the Mail and Webster Tarpley, a blogger, for posting and publicizing the Slovenian report. Mr. Harder recently had celebrated his victory over the Gawker, driving it out of business, for posting a story about former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan having sex with his former manager’s wife. The wife had admitted that the story was true and that she had leaked it to the Gawker. Mr. Harder was just the guy for Mrs. Trump. See Escort-Gate.
This morning’s paper reported the refiling of the suit, calling attention to the $150 million claim for damages, as follows:
Plaintiff had the unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as an extremely famous and well-known person…to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world.
“These product categories would have included, among other things, apparel, accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and fragrance….
The case is Swiss cheese. The claim of defamation is dubious. The Daily Mail only reported statements made by a third-party, disclaiming any knowledge of the facts and casting no judgment on its veracity. Then, Melania Trump is a public figure, and under the libel law, she must prove that the publication was malicious. The claimed harm, the damages, are speculative unless Mrs. Trump had a contract that was canceled; negotiations that were terminate; or a prospect business partner who ran from her like she’d had the Plague.
An Honor to Serve
What was most sickening was that the First Lady is suing because her plan to use her status for financial gain had been torpedoed. Interestingly, Mrs. Trump has not moved into the White House or assumed any duties, although she did hire a chief of staff last week. Lindsey Reynolds, a former Bush White House employee, has been named to oversee the First Lady’s portfolio, the first item of which is to clean up the White House so that the tours will be “top-notch.”
It was too much to expect that Mrs. Trump would take on a public service role, like advocating against childhood obesity, as did Michelle Obama, or lobbying for early education, as did Laura Bush. But it is sad to see that she planned to turn the East Wing into a shopping mall.