Model Calls Out N.Y. Times Reporter Who Slut-Shamed Melania Trump 

Melania Trump
From left: Melania Trump and Emily Ratajkowski

It’s been seven months since the New York Post ran a cover that featured a nude photo of Melania Trump shot in the 1990s when she was a fashion model by the name of Melania Knauss, and still, ostensibly bright, thoughtful people continue to slut-shame her for having posed for the photos. Whether the pictures are artful or tacky is another question altogether but by no means a basis by which to malign Melania (Trump). And that’s why model Emily Ratajkowski took to Twitter to call out a then-unidentified reporter from The New York Times who referred to Trump as a “hooker” at an event over the weekend, according to Politico. 

Ratajkowski, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model whose first major break was her appearance in Robin Thicke and Pharrell’s “Blurred Lines” video in 2013, was seated next to the Times reporter, who has now identified himself as Jacob Bernstein, at an event for New York Fashion Week. She tackled the Trump comment on Twitter in no uncertain terms. 

“Sat next to a journalist from NYT last night who told me ‘Melania is a hooker.’ Whatever your politics it’s crucial to call this out for what it is: slut shaming. I don’t care about her nudes or sexual history and no one should,” Ratajkowski railed on Twitter. “Gender-specific attacks are disgusting sexist bullshit.” 

The Times reportedly reprimanded Bernstein, who, in the face of the controversy, has now issued an apology. Bernstein (son of famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein and Nora Ephron) tweeted, “Speaking at a party in what I thought was a personal conversation, I nevertheless made a stupid remark about the first lady.” He further tweeted that Times editors made it clear to him that his remarks did not uphold the standards of the publication.

While the nude photo shoot put Melania Trump’s past on blast for the nation to see, Bernstein’s remarks were based on an unfounded rumor perpetuated by the U.K.'s Daily Mail. Trump has since sued the paper, which alleged she had been an “elite escort” in the “sex business," that narrative clearly stuck for some people, including Bernstein. The Mail article, which ran last year, cited a story in a Slovenian magazine that claimed the modeling agency she worked for upon arriving in New York from that country also ran an escort service. The paper issued a retraction. 

Trump has been attacked by the right and by the left for her history, which certainly appears more colorful than the pasts of the first ladies who came before her, but it’s not a basis on which to judge her. Whatever one may think of what Trump did before her husband ran for the presidency, Ratajkowski is right. It is irrelevant to the job before her, except, perhaps, to point out the hypocrisy of those on the right who wrongfully went berserk when Michelle Obama dared to bare her arms during Barack Obama’s first term. 

Last March, before Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination, Melania had been a target of a conservative super PAC that attempted to slut-shame her through an ad featuring a nude picture of her from a photo shoot she did for British GQ in 2000, which was posted on Instagram and Facebook. The text read, “Meet Melania Trump. Your next First Lady. Or, you could support Ted Cruz on Tuesday.” 

While Michelle Obama’s arms were once the impetus for outrage on the right, so many people on the left have gone low by referring to Trump’s photos and by buying into the “escort” narrative, as illustrated by the misogynist memes that made the rounds throughout the election. But perhaps the dust-up between Ratajkowski and Bernstein will inspire others to think before slut-shaming. 

“My mistake, referring to unfounded rumors, shouldn’t reflect on anyone else and I apologize profusely,” Bernstein also tweeted in his apology, likely referring to the Daily Mail controversy. 

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