News & Politics

STUDY: Liberal Media Loves Immigrants, Except for Melania Trump

U.S. First lady Melania Trump at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, Sunday, November 11, 2018. (Benoit Tessier/Pool Photo via AP)

A research fellow and professor at the University of Flensburg in Germany has published a new study highlighting the double standards the liberal media uses when discussing Melania Trump.

The first lady, 47, was born and raised in Slovenia, and is the only first lady to become a naturalized United States citizen. Though Mrs. Trump should be seen as an immigration success story, research fellow Katharina Wiedlack, Ph.D., worried that it has been otherwise.

Her study, “In/visibly different: Melania Trump and the othering of Eastern European women in US culture,” was published December 6 and analyzed the 2016 SNL skit “Melanianade” to illustrate how Mrs. Trump is depicted throughout media in the United States.

SNL portrays Melania Trump as uncharismatic doll and ‘trophy wife,’ drawing on misogynist and anti-immigrant views, echoing neoliberal media, such as The New Yorker, which described her as ‘the perfect body on which to hang a brand,'” wrote Wiedlack.

Wiedlack added that the media perpetuates “stereotypes of post-Soviet women, the slut and the victim,” especially with the liberal media’s “emphasis on sex work and motherhood” when discussing Mrs. Trump. The SNL skit, she says, is one of many examples.

“The liberal press is not… prone to sympathize with the Slovenian-American First Lady and instead activates the most derogatory stereotypes about Eastern European women [when discussing her],” concluded Wiedlack.

In an email interview with PJ Media on Tuesday, Wiedlack noted that she’s no outsider to American culture. At the time of the 2016 election, Wiedlack was teaching at Johns Hopkins University and witnessed the media’s treatment of Melania Trump firsthand.

“[It] seemed to draw on stereotypical ideas about Eastern European women from the 1990s and I was shocked that feminists could reactivate discourses like that… people started talking about her ‘Eastern European mindset.'”

She also pointed out the hypocrisy of feminist media commentators in the United States. Though she currently lives in Germany, Wiedlack has spent roughly 30 percent of Trump’s presidency on U.S. soil, teaching and researching post-Soviet culture and feminism at schools including NYU and UC-Berkeley.

“Of course, [liberal media commentators] wanted to get back at Trump’s immigration restrictions. But I think the ways they did it was really drawing on old stereotypes about Eastern European women as trafficking victims, sex workers and criminals.”

“That feminists would choose to frame their criticism along those stereotypes was really outrageous.”

“The focus on Melania Trump’s accent and general Otherness by any media is rather a sign for the still persisting anti-immigrant sentiments within American society,” she concluded.

Wiedlack’s research can be found in the December issue of Feminist Media Studies.

Follow the author on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen.