On Saturday, First Lady Melania Trump, came to Lebron James’ defense after President Trump’s caustic and critical tweet posted late Friday night. The president criticized the basketball superstar after he participated in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, saying in the tweet, “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”
Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2018
During the interview, James discussed the president's sharp criticism of NFL players who chose to join then-quarterback Colin Kaepernick in protest by "taking the knee" and the divisive effect his remarks had on the sports community and the U.S. more generally. “[He] used sports to kind of divide people,” James told Lemmon. He also discussed the opening of his school, I Promise School, in his hometown Akron. The school is James’ latest philanthropic endeavor, fully funding a school that will prioritize higher education — offering full scholarships to qualified graduates for post-secondary school, including college — and provide resources, like free transportation, for both students in underprivileged communities and their parents. By the following morning Twitter was flooded with defenses of James and criticisms of Trump. The most surprising was Melania Trump’s response, which reprimanded her husband’s remarks outright. Her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham released an official statement:
"It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation and just as she always has, the First Lady encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today. As you know, Mrs. Trump has traveled the country and world talking to children about their well-being, healthy living, and the importance of responsible online behavior with her Be Best initiative. Her platform centers around visiting organizations, hospitals and schools, and she would be open to visiting the I Promise School in Akron. "
The First Lady revealed her Be Best initiative in May, which aims at improving children’s emotional and physical well-being by combatting cyberbullying, the opioid crisis and improving mental health. Melania Trump’s statement was part of a torrent of criticism for the president with people from sports, media to politics defending the highly regarded athlete. Michael Jordan tweeted, “I support LeBron James. He’s doing an amazing job for his community.”
Lemmon responded to the comment with a strong message back to the president, saying, “Who’s the real dummy? A man who puts kids in classrooms or one who puts kids in cages?” Many people also viewed the president’s remark as racist. Trump is known for frequently targeting his black critics, such as Rep. Maxine Waters by saying they have “low IQ.” Journalist Dan Rather tweeted, “This is apparently what the President of the United States feels the need to share with the world at what should be long past his bedtime? It's a disgrace. It's racist. And it's the product of petty but dangerous hatreds. I repeat this is the PRESIDENT??!?
This is apparently what the President of the United States feels the need to share with the world at what should be long past his bedtime? It's a disgrace. It's racist. And it's the product of petty but dangerous hatreds. I repeat this is the PRESIDENT??!? https://t.co/MA8nZUxFc7 — Dan Rather (@DanRather) August 4, 2018
James has not made a statement about the incident.