First Lady Melania Trump first came to the United States in 1996 and began dating real estate tycoon, and future President of the United States, Donald Trump.
When she decided to immigrate to the United States from her native country of Slovenia in 2001, she received a special EB-1 visa for people with “extraordinary abilities.”
The news was reported Thursday by the Washington Post under the backhanded headline, “Questions linger about how Melania Trump, a Slovenian model, scored ‘the Einstein visa.’”
WaPo’s sexist and dishonest insinuation that Melania Trump was “just a model” was picked up and echoed throughout the mainstream media’s echo-sphere. The smear-job opening of the story, following the lede, is the following:
Knauss’s credentials included runway shows in Europe, a Camel cigarette billboard ad in Times Square and — in her biggest job at the time — a spot in the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated, which featured her on the beach in a string bikini, hugging a six-foot inflatable whale.
In March 2001, she was granted a green card in the elite EB-1 program, which was designed for renowned academic researchers, multinational business executives or those in other fields, such as Olympic athletes and Oscar-winning actors, who demonstrated “sustained national and international acclaim.”
Let’s just stop right here. The Washington Post intentionally labels the EB-1 the “Einstein visa” (denoting that it’s designed for outstanding scholars).
Then it proceeds to describe it as reserved for “Olympic athletes and Oscar-winning actors, who demonstrated ‘sustained national and international acclaim.’” They explain it as such based on the word of Democratic congressman who was involved with crafting the bill.
But unless George Clooney or Johnny Weir are like “Einstein,” the entire story is already off-base.
It gets shot to hell further. If we examine the number of people who got EB-1 visas the same year as then Melania Knauss, only 3,376 of the more than 1 million green cards issued in 2001 were given to those with “extraordinary ability.” Furthermore, as The Hill pointed out, she was “one of five people from Slovenia to get green cards in 2001 through the program.”
Then again, her home country was Slovenia: A tiny nation with a population of 1.7 million people in 2001 — roughly the same as the state of Nebraska in that year. It doesn’t seem all-that-unusual she received an “elite visa” given that she was a model that had graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and had graced billboards for multi-national corporations posted on Times Square, does it? It’s not like a flood of athletes and actors from Slovenia were flooding the EB-1 visa program year after year.
This sexist attack on the First Lady looks even worse when one considers how flimsy the “just a model” story stands up to reality. Although Melania Trump didn’t graduate from college with a degree in architecture, as a biography of her once claimed, she is a polyglot who speaks five languages. A professor from University of Ljubljana who knew Melania told NBC News that “her IQ was very high” and said the reason she stopped her studies was not due to intellectual inadequacy.
“She hasn’t finished university, at least not in Ljubljana,” Professor Blaz Vogelnik said. “My personal opinion is that, because she was very beautiful girl … I believe that she realized that she could gain more with that, than to have long studies.”
Melania Knauss would become Mrs. Trump in 2005, and then would become a U.S. citizen a year later.
Since her presidential husband has expressed his opposition to illegal immigration on a number of occasions, as well as the need for the U.S. to have more skilled immigrants, many in the news media believe there is a story to be had attempting to expose the president’s “hypocrisy” on legal immigration. (As an aside, let me personally express that it is helpful to call one’s Congressman or another important public figure to push the legal immigration process along. This is not unethical or illegal.)
But the line of attack on Melania Trump has been disgusting and unfair all along. One cannot imagine for a microsecond that a Democratic public figure would be subjected to such a one-sided tendentious attack that she was “just a model” and therefore she probably shouldn’t have been eligible for an “Einstein visa,” implying that only once-in-a-lifetime scholarly figures received the visa, when that is altogether not the case.
If we go down the list of things that Melania Trump has been attacked for, we can add receiving an “elite visa” to the list; along with wearing the “wrong” heels, and the “wrong” hats.
Another day, another baseless attack on the First Lady.