Melania Trump not surprised by cyberbullying initiative 'ridicule'

'That's OK,' first lady says

By KATE SULLIVAN AND AARON PELLISH, CNN
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First lady Melania Trump said it was not surprising to her that people "ridicule" her for speaking out on cyberbullying, "and that's OK."

(CNN) - First lady Melania Trump said it was not surprising to her that people "ridicule" her for speaking out on cyberbullying, "and that's OK."

"It is not news or surprising to me that critics and the media have chosen to ridicule me for speaking out on this issue, and that's OK," Trump said Thursday at a Family Online Safety Institute conference.

"I remain committed to tackling this topic because it will provide a better world for our children," she continued, "and I hope that like I do, you will consider using their negative words as motivation to do all you can to bring awareness and understanding about responsible online behavior."

The first lady's focus on cyberbullying as part of her Be Best campaign has been a lightning rod of controversy, as her husband is one of the most public and prolific offenders in name-calling and bullying on Twitter.

The New York Times has a running list of the nearly 500 "people, places and things" the President has insulted on Twitter. Insults from the list include "thief," "low IQ person," "clown," "hack," "dummy" and "pathetic."

The first lady has made similar comments before about criticism of her focus on cyberbullying, first addressing her critics head-on in March.

"I am well aware that people are skeptical of me discussing this topic," Trump said at a roundtable event with technology executives. "I have been criticized for my commitment to tackling this issue and I know that will continue. But it will not stop me from doing what I know is right."

In August, after the first lady warned about the "destructive and harmful" uses of social media, her spokeswoman told CNN: "She's addressed this before. She is well aware of the criticism, but that will not deter her from doing what she feels is right."

"I would hope most people in this country are proud that they have a strong and independent first lady who only has the best interests of children at heart -- I know I am," the statement East Wing communications director Stephanie Grisham said.

Thursday's remarks from the first lady come the same week she called for the ouster of President Donald Trump's deputy national security adviser, Mira Ricardel, in an unprecedented move. The first lady released a statement calling for Ricardel's dismissal Tuesday, and the White House announced Wednesday that Ricardel would be leaving her current role and would take a different position in the administration.

On Thursday, speaking on a panel with teenagers about cyberbullying following her opening remarks, the first lady said, "It's always good to turn negativity into positivity."

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