Accuracy in Media

Even as mainstream media reporters portray the Trump administration as lacking substance and a substantive policy focus, the New York Times chose to give Page A1 placement of a speculative story by Vanessa Friedman, its fashion director and chief fashion critic, criticizing the jacket that first lady Melania Trump wore before and after a tour of a children’s shelter in Texas.

“To accept the idea she just threw the Zara jacket on in practically the same situation because — hey, it was close at hand and she was maybe a little bit cool (or something like that) is simply unbelievable,” Friedman wrote in her psychoanalysis of Mrs. Trump.

“Especially because this time around Mrs. Trump chose to wear something from the mass market brand Zara — Zara! — instead of her usual Dolce & Gabbana or Ralph Lauren. This is a first lady, after all, who decided to wear a $1,380 Balmain plaid shirt during a White House gardening initiative. She is not a high/low dresser in public — or has never been since the election. She’s been all high seemingly all the time.”

Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman said that “There was no hidden message,” yet Friedman wrote that the First Lady’s fashion choice “may have backfired,” an analysis displaying the most common response among the mainstream media: to project sinister motives despite no evidence.

“All of which suggests there is very little chance she did not know what she was doing with that ‘I really don’t care’ coat. (Zara declined to comment.),” Friedman wrote. “Mrs. Trump often seems to be using her clothes as a sort of private diary, yet one that is parsed by millions who don’t have the rest of the text. Between intention and analysis, an enormous gulf can exist. It’s a risky approach to her role. And as interesting as the idea might be, this time it may have backfired.”

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