Kellyanne Conway recently spoke out about first ladies, and it might upset a lot of Michelle Obama fans — depending on your interpretation, of course. A TMZ reporter asked Conway about why Melania Trump hasn't appeared on many magazine covers whereas Obama was featured on many. In one part of her response, Conway said Trump is a "superior" first lady, which is being taken as a dig against Obama.
As TMZ often does, television cameras and a reporter followed Conway to her car. The reporter asked, "Is it a double standard how the the media has been covering Melania Trump?" He goes on to point out Trump "hasn't been on the cover of any U.S. magazines," but Obama has been featured "30 times."
Conway jumped right in with her superior comment. "Melania Trump is such a superior and excellent first lady," Conway told the reporter, immediately after he mentioned Obama. Conway continued, listing out Trump's accomplishments:
This country is so lucky to have her as its first lady. Her work with youth, her work with... you saw her in the East Wing recently talking about the opioid crisis, empowering young kids in their curriculum in the public schools. And she's just doing a wonderful job. Everybody's so excited that she and her team are in charge of the state dinner with the Macrons coming up this week. And they see every time that they witness Melania Trump going down for the hurricane recovery, she's a philanthropist. She's a wonderful role model for women and girls, and really anyone everywhere.
Then comes the second comparison with Obama. "I don't think she needs to be on the cover of a magazine for everybody to see how wonderful her work is," Conway concluded.
It may not be exactly fair to claim Conway called Trump superior specifically in comparison to Obama — but she did seem to start and end her response relating Trump to her predecessor.
What is definitely true is that Trump has not been on the cover of magazines to the same degree that Obama was. NBC News looked into the matter, noting that the first lady, who is a former model, was on the cover of many top U.S. publications before becoming first lady but has been on none since. Her only magazine cover since is south of the border, when she graced the front of Vanity Fair Mexico — which provoked outrage, given her husband's policies.
“It’s a lack of sensitivity on the part of the publisher,” Guadalupe Loaeza, a Mexican author and columnist, told The Guardian. “I started reading this and I couldn’t finish. I didn’t want to know anything about the wife of our country’s No 1 enemy.”
That outrage is reportedly the main reason she hasn't been on any U.S. covers either. "For some people, it's a moral issue," one major editor told NBC News. "There is no way to do the Trumps without infuriating either the base or the resistance. It is a no-win."
The question asked of Conway has been brought up several times on Twitter. Actor, Republican, and vocal Trump supporter James Wood posited, "If the Trumps were Democrats, Melania would be on every cover of every chic women’s magazine in the world every month."
There's no promise of a cover, but it does seem that Melania will feature in Vogue at some point in the next years. "We have a tradition of always covering whoever is the first lady at Vogue, and I can't imagine that this time would be any different," Anna Wintour, the editor of the magazine, told The Wall Street Journal in February 2017.
Conway's right that magazine covers don't make a first lady superior, but Obama fans may still take offense at the comparison.