Unfake news about the First Daughter

Ivanka Trump and father at a 2016 campaign event. (Damon Winter/The New York Times)

Cross-posted at Medium

I wonder what President Trump thought of the profile of his daughter Ivanka that appeared today in The Washington Post.

Titled “Is it a tightrope or a bridge?” the piece appeared on the first page of the Style section with this subhead: “Ivanka Trump defends her father, her causes and her centrist image in a politically divided age.” The authors are Monica Hesse, a staff writer in the Style section, and Krissah Thompson, a Post reporter since 2001 who has been a business reporter, covered presidential campaigns and written about civil rights and race.

My guess is that the President did not hate the story, even though it contained quotes from four unnamed sources.

“They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name,” Trump asserted yesterday during his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Today’s story about Ivanka included this quote from “one Ivanka friend of several years:” I think at times she’s very excited. And at times she’s very overwhelmed.”

“A Republican who has met with her” said the following:

The tumult and uproar that was generated by so much of what this president did in the first month of office has made it to where her capacity is very much narrowed. She is going to be implicitly damned by some of his policies, and it will be very, very hard for her to navigate.

One source, identified only as “a White House official,” credited Ivanka with being instrumental in setting up a roundtable with her father attended by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and top female executives of both countries. The group discussed “ways to elevate women in cross-border business endeavors,” The Post reported.

A fourth unnamed person, described as “a source close to them,” meaning Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, described the couple’s bipartisan tendencies as “secure lines” for people disinclined to reach out to her father.

It should be noted that the reporters quoted twice as many named sources as anonymous ones in their story.

Those named were three Republican members of Congress, Ivanka’s younger brother Eric, the rabbi who delivered a prayer at Trump’s inauguration, the president of the National Urban League, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, and a stylist and TV personality who has known Ivanka since she was a girl.

From all of these sources, named and unnamed, The Post presented a compelling description of the challenge facing the President’s daughter. She comes across as a poised, moderately minded young woman raising a young family, supporting her father, and attempting to avoid becoming an early casualty of the Trump presidency.

Ivanka’s sincerity is routinely questioned on Twitter. But I found the description of her by Rabbi Hier, who has encountered her at Passover retreats since her conversion to Judaism, to be convincing:

Whatever service she attends, she’s among the first to arrive. Sometimes you hear, “Is it sincere, did she just do it for the family?” But my observation is she’s very sincere.

The New York Times a month ago reported that President Trump rises before 6 a.m. each day and watches TV in the White House residence. In a small dining room in the West Wing he later looks through the morning papers — The Times, The New York Post, and — a then-recent addition — The Washington Post.

If he is still keeping to that diet of news, I bet he stopped at the first page of The Post’s Style section today. If he read it, he might have learned a few things.

Maybe he didn’t know that his daughter felt compelled to use a fake name when she showed up for a Solidcore class a few weeks ago and was still called out unfavorably by the gym’s owner on social media.

Or that a Republican representative from New York, Elise Stefanik, hopes Ivanka will continue to reach out to GOP congresswomen who share her commitment to women’s issues.

Or that another representative predicted the President’s daughter will find natural allies in her causes.

“As we get further down the path of people realizing that President Trump is here, and he will be our president for at least four years, they are going to start to focus on what can bring us together,” said Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.).

I thought The Post did a good job portraying the difficult position in which Ivanka Trump finds herself. At one point the authors suggested that she seems to be “caught between a rock and a Trump place.”

It’s one thing to make a mark on Washington; the trick is to not let it bruise you.

No matter how unobjectionable Ivanka’s actions and causes may be, she’s undertaking them against the backdrop of a divisive presidency, in a majority-Democratic city where even a trip to the gym can become a political act.

I am not a fan of her father, but I wish Ivanka Trump success in building narrow bridges in Washington. I hope she does not fall off the tightrope.

If the President did read this profile, I hope he recognized it as real — not fake — news on a subject about which he cares deeply.

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