What we learned from Free, Melania, the salacious new book about the first lady | Books

Melania Trump is an enigma, but a new book by Kate Bennett, a CNN reporter who spent years following the first lady, promises to give the unofficial, unauthorized account of who she really is.

Is she really Donald Trump’s prisoner? Or is she, as the book asks, “a woman who spent her childhood and formative years in a poor communist country, who speaks five languages, who privately spends her time visiting sick children … a fierce protector of her child?”

You might not have the time to read Free, Melania’s 288 pages to find out – so we did it for you. Here’s what we learned.

1. Melania spent five months on a décor project

Be Best baubles and blood red trees: Melania Trump’s Christmas decorations – video

The author spends a lot of time lamenting Melania’s lack of “skills”. According to Bennett, this has been a sticking point for Flotus: unlike her predecessors – Michelle Obama who was a Princeton grad and Hillary Clinton who was a lawyer – Melania often finds herself stuck without the tools to control the media narrative around her; to command the resources she needed in the White House for her initiatives. It might even explain why she had to steal one of Michelle Obama’s speeches.

But Melania has thrown herself into other projects instead. One was designing Christmas decorations for the White House last year. According to the book, she spent much of her time poring over mood boards.

Some may remember the fruits of her hard work: after five months she arrived squarely at the conclusion that it would be a good idea to decorate the White House with blood-red trees. Of course, the internet mocked the dystopian trees, and asked whether Melania was OK.

Jason O. Gilbert

AIDE: There’s this perception you don’t care about children, so we need to—

MELANIA: Get me the blood-red nightmare Christmas trees with NO ORNAMENTS OR PRESENTS pic.twitter.com/2F3jv8oyAO

November 26, 2018

She perhaps had less time to pore over her response: “We are in the 21st century,” Melania told reporters at the time. Which is, of course, the century in which we should become more tolerant of all trees, no matter what color they are.

2. Trump was his own real-life sock puppet

People were bemused earlier this year upon learning that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney had a sock puppet account – an account used to big oneself up, under the pretence of being someone else.

The book revisits the story of Trump’s own sock puppet: himself. He used to call reporters at outlets such as People and Forbes pretending to be Trump’s PR guy “John Barron”, and would overinflate his wealth and importance.

Forbes reporter Jonathan Greenberg realized he’d been duped by Trump in 1984 when he played back a call he’d had with “Barron” on tape, and realized it was just Trump speaking in a different tone.

3. Maybe Melania is just private

Looking at the evidence, an unforgiving audience might describe Melania as vapid. She created a grammatically incorrect public awareness program “Be Best” as her initiative, which took aim at online trolls, seemingly unaware of who she is married to. An explanation is yet to be given for why Melania once thought it was a good idea to create a caviar-based skincare line – probably because there are no words.

But the book invites us to consider an alternative truth: perhaps Melania is simply a private person. She doesn’t talk to the press, she barely talks to her security guards, and she even keeps her own quarters in the White House.

“Imagine what those [polling] numbers could be if Melania actually said anything of major importance on a regular basis?” Bennett opines, in reference to a poll that once put her as more popular than Michelle Obama.

I wonder.

3. The jacket was about Ivanka, not children separated from their parents

Melania Trump wearing a Zara jacket that reads, “I don’t really care. Do U?,” after visiting the Upbring New Hope Children Center

Melania Trump wearing a Zara jacket that reads, “I don’t really care. Do U?” Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

Remember that jacket? The one Melania wore during a visit to a migrant child detention centre, the one emblazoned with the words: “I really don’t care, Do U?”

The book speculates the jacket’s slogan wasn’t directed at the children – it was directed at Ivanka instead. Melania was reportedly fuming at the time that Ivanka had taken all the credit for Trump’s softening stance on immigration when actually it was Melania who had got him to climb down.

Bennett argues that Melania took aim at Ivanka in the best way she knew how: by wearing a jacket from the same store Ivanka favors (Melania wears more expensive designer clothes).

4. Melania is really down to earth

If this book is anything to go by, then Melania is really just a normal person: she is nice to staff and she uses emojis. According to Bennett, Melania often sends Grisham emojis to “convey her happiness, disappointment or surprise”.

5. Who will speak out for Tiffany?

At Melania and Trump’s wedding, everyone had a role. Trump’s sons, Don Jr and Eric, were his best men. Ivanka did a Bible reading. There was even a role for reality TV show producer Mark Burnett’s eldest son – who was a page boy. Tiffany, on the other hand, was tasked with handing out wedding programs.

Bennet concludes: “It’s unclear why Tiffany’s role was so minimal, but as with most things Tiffany Trump, there’s a sad footnote or afterthought.”

6. Separate rooms

And now for the grand finale: the book reveals that Trump and Melania sleep in separate rooms. Melania, according to the author, sleeps in a room on the third floor of the executive residence, where Michelle Obama’s mother lived during the Obama presidency. Trump reportedly sleeps in the master bedroom on the first floor.

Bennett gives a surprising explanation for their separate quarters: perhaps if Melania and Trump were forced to spend more time with each other, their marriage wouldn’t last.

“Trump didn’t have separate bedrooms with his two previous wives; it’s worth noting that those relationships lasted nowhere near as long as his current one,” says Bennett. Trump’s first marriage actually lasted 14 years – the same as his marriage with Melania – so she still has some time left to disprove the theory.

There is also a much more obvious explanation – that Melania’s physical detachment from Trump has something to do with his multiple alleged infidelities.

Source: The Guardian

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