Chelsea Clinton sticks up for Barron Trump over bullying on Twitter

After a writer for 'Saturday Night Live' has been suspended for tweeting a joke about Donald Trump's son, Barron, the 10-year-old has found support from Chelsea Clinton, who also faced mean-spirited attacks during her childhood at the White House.

Win McNamee/Reuters
Barron Trump arrives on the West Front of the US Capitol on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017 for his father's inauguration ceremony.

As a former White House child, Chelsea Clinton knows firsthand how it feels to be the victim of media bullying.

It’s no surprise that Ms. Clinton – who moved into the White House when she was 12 – rose to defend 10-year-old Barron following an onslaught of off-color tweets directed at President Trump’s youngest son on Inauguration Day.    

"Barron Trump deserves the chance every child does – to be a kid," wrote Clinton in a Facebook post Sunday that amassed more than 11,000 shares and more than 136,000 reactions.

As Barron becomes the first first boy since "John-John" Kennedy, as the younger John F. Kennedy was known then, Clinton is one of a number of adults who have sought to protect him.

Barron has been the subject of public teasing since his father was elected in November. Late that month, Barron’s mother, Melania, threatened a lawsuit over a YouTube video, according to TMZ. "The video allegedly seeks to 'stop the bullying' of Barron Trump," says Ms. Trump’s attorney, Charles Harder, in a letter. "Not true.... The video did instigate further bullying by Rosie O'Donnell and others."

On Inauguration Day on Friday, Barron was the subject of numerous Twitter posts, including from a “Saturday Night Live” comedy writer.

Katie Rich was suspended immediately after writing an offensive tweet about the child she has since deleted from her account, a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly told The Associated Press.

When Ms. Rich reactivated her account on Monday, she said she wanted to "sincerely apologize" for the "insensitive" tweet and "deeply regret" her actions. She remains suspended indefinitely.

Journalists, other comedians, and prominent figures across the political spectrum rushed to defend Barron, according to CBS News, including Clinton. A petition on to fire SNL’s Rich and Comedy Central contributor Stephen Spinola for a similarly offensive tweets has also collected more than 113,000 signatures.

Children of US presidents who still live at home were once considered off limits for media critics. That appears to have changed  starting in the 1970s, as The New York Times observed. Both SNL and conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh mocked 9-year-old Amy Carter. Young Amy was portrayed in SNL sketches as spoiled beyond all reason. One sketch had her complaining to her father, "It’s always United States first and Amy second!" according to the book "White House Kids." 

Clinton, too, was the butt of SNL and Mr. Limbaugh's jokes. Before Limbaugh compared Clinton to the White House dog, he had called Amy Carter "the most unattractive presidential daughter in the history of the country," later correcting himself, saying he’d forgotten about Harry Truman’s daughter, Margaret. SNL cast member Mike Myers also had to write an apology letter to the Clintons after a Wayne's World skit mocking Chelsea.

"She's a kid, a kid who didn't choose to be in public life," SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels said at the time.

The Bush twins, Jenna and Barbara, were also a subject of tabloid stories and late-night monologues for some of their behavior in college. They were 19 when their father became president.

The Obama daughters, Malia and Sasha, were also mocked on Facebook by a congressional aide for their unenthusiastic facial expressions during their father’s pardoning of Thanksgiving turkeys. The aide, Elizabeth Lauten, stepped down from her Republican post in 2014.

"Few of us would have relished the spotlight at age 10 – certainly not the spotlight that accompanies a parent in political office," writes Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens. "No more Barron Trump taunts. They're lazy. They're mean. They're counterproductive."

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.