By Margarita Artoglou
It is ridiculous that Ivanka Trump’s failing clothing line is constantly making the headlines. I wish I could ignore it and focus on more important missteps on the part of the Trump administration.
But I cannot, because now it is an issue of ethics, and the White House has crossed a serious line.
First, the president tweeted a complaint about Nordstrom’s “unfair” treatment of Ivanka, as if her line has not been doing terribly in sales. However, I was not really too shocked about that kind of behavior from the president himself.
But Ivanka’s clothing line is apparently a topic of interest for other individuals on Trump’s staff. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s former campaign manager and current White House advisor, did an interview with Fox News in which she shouted out the brand and gave it a “free commercial,” as she called it.
“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” Conway told viewers.
This is not the first time the brand has made controversial headlines. Back in November, right after Trump won the election, Ivanka did an interview with “60 Minutes” in which she wore a bracelet from her own brand. The day after, her company sent out an email urging shoppers to buy the bracelet “as seen on 60 Minutes!” And after her Republican National Convention speech, during which she wore a dress of her own creation, the company tweeted, “Shop Ivanka’s RNC look!”
“Saturday Night Live” poked fun at the administration’s preoccupation with the first daughter’s lifestyle brand and featured Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer, showing off his Ivanka Trump high heels and bracelet.
On the surface, the issue is frivolous and petty — and McCarthy’s take was hilarious.
But the incident becomes worrisome when one realizes that though there are a million things the president and his staff could be passionate about, but at the end of the day, Trump only really cares about his family and its personal gain.
Probably out of a desire to stay on his good side, Conway decided that she should make it a big deal too.
The part that bothers me the most is that no one seems to be getting in trouble for this — I guess the Trump administration is such a train wreck that this ethics infraction is but a drop in the bucket.
The “60 Minutes” incident was brushed off as a misstep as the company learned to deal with its founder and CEO making the transition from style icon to public servant.
When asked about Conway’s ethics violation, Spicer responded that she had been “counseled” on the issue.
But these instances point to a troubling trend of the first family prioritizing the lining of their pockets over public policy. I was convinced during the election that Trump’s run was a publicity ploy — and I still am.
He spent much of his campaign attacking mainstream media, and I believed he was poised to start his own media company at the end of the election — he even aired the third debate on Facebook Live as an alternative to “biased” media outlets, giving us a glimpse at what “Trump TV” might have looked like.
I remember thinking, “This is it. This is really why he is running — a new business endeavor.”
But then he won the presidency.
I do not believe Trump ever meant to win the White House, and now that his politics could be hurting his family’s business interests, he is outraged. And so he does the only thing he knows: he takes to Twitter to rant.
Again, this seems petty and childish — but what if our president is at the top of a slippery slope? Today, he tweets about the Ivanka Trump brand and Nordstrom; tomorrow, he might use the State of the Union address to promote Trump Hotels.
Regardless of whether you are a Trump supporter or not, we must remember that our president was, and still is, first and foremost a businessman. We as citizens must stay informed to ensure that public service is Trump’s first priority, not making a profit.
Margarita Artoglou, FCRH ’18, is a communications and media studies major from Queens, New York.