"I encourage everyone who chooses to be negative & question my work at the to take time and contribute something good & productive in their own communities," she wrote

By Georgia Slater
March 07, 2020 01:33 PM
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Melania Trump spoke out about her work as first lady after being criticized this week for observing construction on a White House tennis complex while the nation is grappling with the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Several users on Twitter — where Trump critics are legion and eager to pounce — sniffed about her posting Thursday about the tennis pavilion given its timing in the wake of deadly Tennessee tornadoes and ongoing coronavirus concerns.

On Saturday, the first lady, 49, responded to those attacking her priorities with a tweet urging people to go out and give back to their community.

“I encourage everyone who chooses to be negative & question my work at the to take time and contribute something good & productive in their own communities,” she wrote.

It was a rare moment of her responding to criticism.

The first lady has largely avoided wading into disputes about her White House tenure or engaging with arguments that her “Be Best” initiative focusing on children’s welfare and anti-bullying is hypocritical, given President Donald Trump‘s penchant for mocking people he dislikes — such as teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Other users were quick to reply to Mrs. Trump’s tweet, many of whom remained unhappy with the call to action.

“In case you didn’t notice, The world is in the midst of Coronavirus Pandemic. People are dying. And you post about the new Tennis Pavilion(one “L”) at the White House – seems a little out of touch,” wrote one user.

(To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC encourages maintaining basic forms of hygiene including careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness. Health officials have also maintained that the risk to the average American is low.)

“Sorry if we were ‘negative & questioned’ your ‘good & productive work’ making a tennis pavilion ( whatever that is) for the WH with our money. We are dealing with a negative thing or two. Love the hard-hat,” actress Mia Farrow wrote back to Mrs. Trump, in a since-deleted post.

A third user tweeted, “Shhhh, quiet, the tennis match is underway. The ping of tennis balls off of the rackets will drown out the crying babies in cages, Puerto Rican hurricane victims, and Americans waiting to be tested for Coronavirus,” referencing several pertinent issues the world is facing.

When the White House announced the planned pavilion last fall, it noted that the project would be funded by private donations and that the new recreational space would be a gathering spot for presidential families down the line.

“Architectural inspiration for the pavilion is drawn from the White House, with the end goal of the new structure on the south lawn complementing and contributing to the People’s house,” the first lady said in a news release at the time. “It is my hope that this private space will function as a place to gather and spend leisure time for First Families.”

First Lady Melania Trump
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty

Earlier this week, Mrs. Trump championed the role women play in American society during a speech at the International Women of Courage Awards — as her husband attacked political rival Elizabeth Warren on social media.

“I’m proud of what this country continues to do for women,” Mrs. Trump said at the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. She added moments later that “in the United States, women are playing vital roles in society. They are mothers, wives, doctors, CEOs and elected officials, to name just a few.”

Responding to her construction photos on Twitter on Thursday, one user seemed to note the contradiction, writing, “I won’t be mean to you. I just wish you hold EVERYONE to the #BeBest campaign you supposedly started.”