"The joke was aimed at Trump and the mere mention of Barron’s name doesn’t mean it’s at his expense," John Henson later explained

By Adam Carlson
June 24, 2020 10:32 AM
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From left: John Henson, Barron Trump and First Lady Melania Trump
Eric Charbonneau/Shutterstock; y Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

TV host and comedian John Henson removed a Father's Day jab at Donald Trump over the president's bond with his teenage son, Barron, amid outcry from some on Twitter — and criticism from First Lady Melania Trump's team.

Henson, a host of Food Network's Halloween Baking Championship and Wipeout before that, originally tweeted: "I hope Barron gets to spend today with whoever his dad is."

Though his post has been taken down, Henson responded to a few users who took issue with it.

"The joke was aimed at Trump and the mere mention of Barron’s name doesn’t mean it’s at his expense," Henson wrote in one reply dinging him for "lazy comedy."

"Although I respect your right to take issue with it," he added. (A rep for him could not immediately be reached.)

In a statement to reporters, the first lady's chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, said: "Sadly we continue to see inappropriate and insensitive comments about the president’s son. As with every other administration, a minor child should be off limits and allowed to grow up with no judgment or hate from strangers and the media."

Mrs. Trump similarly spoke out late last year over what she felt was an unfair swipe at her 14-year-old son, during the impeachment of her husband over his Ukraine scandal.

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“The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son 'Barron,' he can’t make him a baron,” Pamela Karlan, a Stanford Law School professor, quipped during a congressional hearing in December.

“A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics,” the first lady responded on Twitter. “Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it.” (Karlan apologized.)

The minor children of presidents are customarily protected from public scrutiny, including from the press.

But President Trump's divisive style has complicated that approach in the eyes of his critics. He has repeatedly mocked the teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, for example, prompting the first lady's spokeswoman last year to say the first couple "often communicate differently."

Mrs. Trump's Be Best campaign also focuses on anti-bullying, which has similarly drawn much criticism she is hypocritical given the president's online behavior.

From left: Barron Trump with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump in January

As Henson's tweet about the president and Barron was met with disapproval this week, Mrs. Trump's statement was similarly chided by former CNN host Piers Morgan.

He wrote in a Daily Mail column on Wednesday: "I would extend that protective shield to the children of numerous other high-profile people who have been targeted with similar judgement and hate thanks to Donald Trump’s Twitter tirades."