Among some of the most cringeworthy moments of President Obama’s time in the White House came when some right-wing loons saw fit to trash the First Daughters, Sasha and Malia. For all the ugliness and hate that the Obamas had to endure over the last eight years, this was one of the worst. After all, it’s long been a hard and fast rule that underage children are off limits. Period, full stop.
Well, a writer on “Saturday Night Live,” one of Donald Trump’s biggest gadflies, learned the hard way that rule still applies even with Trump in the White House. After she launched an outrageous Twitter attack on Donald and Melania’s 10-year-old son, NBC was all but forced to suspend her indefinitely.
Over the last three-plus years, much of the material from “Weekend Update” has come from the pen of Katie Rich. Ever since the veteran improv comedienne was hired at “SNL” on the recommendation of Cecily Strong, it looked like her star was on the rise.
But that rise came to a screeching halt on Friday afternoon, when Rich fired off this tweet mocking 10-year-old Barron Trump.
Most of you know that I, and this blog, want to see Trump run out of the White House and quickly. The man is easily the most manifestly unfit person to occupy the White House in recent history, perhaps in all of history. But no matter how disreputable his father may be, there is something fundamentally wrong if Barron is fair game. It cannot be repeated enough–underage children of elected officials are off limits, no matter what their parents do or may have done.
If Rich didn’t know this, she learned it in a big way. Within hours, the criticism came in fast and hard, from across the spectrum–even from some of Trump’s most intractable critics. It continued without letup for most of Saturday.
Unless you have something nice to say, any comment about Barron Trump will get u blocked. Kids are off limits.
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) January 20, 2017
8 Years the Obama kids properly are off limits.
3 Hours in Barron Trump assassination joke.
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) January 21, 2017
How can some people be SO cruel? I have seen mean tweets about Barron Trump..he is a KID! I block all those who are so cruel
— Greta Van Susteren (@greta) January 21, 2017
That it even need be said is ridiculous, but mocking the 10-year-old child of a politician you loathe is odious, immoral, & self-defeating
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 21, 2017
— Caroline Craig (@CeeJayCraig) January 21, 2017
Barron Trump deserves the chance every child does-to be a kid. Standing up for every kid also means opposing @POTUS policies that hurt kids.
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) January 22, 2017
Within hours, Rich had deleted the tweet. That wasn’t enough to stem the tide of criticism, so by Friday night she had hidden her entire social media presence from public view.
Over the next 48 hours, NBC was bombarded with demands to fire Rich. One petition suggested that NBC News (and presumably MSNBC) should be kicked out of the White House press room if Rich remained on the payroll.
On Saturday night, when the credits rolled on the first “SNL” of the Trump administration, Rich’s name was noticeably absent, leading to speculation that she had been fired. However, no formal word came until Monday. Sources at NBC reported that within minutes of learning about the tweet, NBC officials suspended Rich indefinitely.
Rich’s Twitter account popped back up on Monday afternoon, with all tweets deleted except for this.
I sincerely apologize for the insensitive tweet. I deeply regret my actions & offensive words. It was inexcusable & I'm so sorry.
— Katie Rich (@katiemaryrich) January 23, 2017
You forgot a few words, Katie–“As I told the Trumps when I personally apologized to them…” While I and many others on the left share your distaste for Trump, you’re being really kind when you called your tweet “inexcusable.” It’s time you got your laptop or your tablet out and wrote the most important thing you ever wrote–a letter personally apologizing to Barron.
I never thought I’d say it, but this is one time where I wouldn’t have cringed at Trump going one of his patented 140-character rants. This wouldn’t have been a case of Trump going after someone who slighted him. This would have been a case of a father defending his son. Any celebrity parent with an underage kid would have been steaming at something like this.
A lot of people thought that Trump’s swearing-in meant that civility was on life support in this country. The fact that Rich was deservedly slammed up and down from both sides of the aisle, though, indicates that there still are some bright lines in our discourse after all. And until she personally apologizes to Barron and the Trumps, she doesn’t need to write anything else.
(featured image courtesy Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune)