|‘Sometime soon, Ivanka Trump will not be able to cover all the moral contradictions of her carefully sculpted pose.’ Photograph: Brendan Smialowski|
Ivanka Trump thinks she is in Beauty and the Beast: more like MacbethBy Jill Abramson
Thursday 6 April 2017 11.06 BSTThe first daughter likes to sell herself as the moral conscience of her father’s administration, but the deep ethical stains are on her hands too
You can’t have it both ways, Ivanka, especially now that you have new, embossed White House stationery with an official title, assistant to the president.
Drop the wink, wink, nod, nod pretence that you and Jared Kushner are “moderating influences” – where is the moderation? Kushner, who holds the same nebulous but all powerful White House job, has huge influence derived from having married a Trump. Like him, your loyalty is unquestioned. Everyone knows you are your father’s most intimate adviser, in business and, no doubt, politics, too. The two of you bring nepotism to a new level, even surpassing JFK’s choice of Bobby for attorney general. Predictably, you are both already targets of myriad conflict-of-interest stories in the media.
The notion that you are a voice for women should have been voided during the good ol’ “grab them by the pussy” days of the campaign. Now, with your father’s defence of disgraced Fox host Bill O’Reilly as “a good person” who shouldn’t have spent $13m settling sexual misconduct lawsuits, you need to cut the con job.
Of course, you are not the only practitioner of pretend feminism in Washington, but you’ve played the pro-woman card more ostentatiously than anyone. At the GOP convention in Cleveland, you wowed everyone, even those “enemies of the people” in the news media, with your paean to working moms. But your proposal for six weeks of paid maternity leave for new mothers won’t apply to new fathers, which almost every expert on gender pay equality believes is vital for women to stay on track and win promotion. They will certainly dissect every word of your upcoming book, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success.
As with almost everything in this billionaires’ club administration, money explains your own brand marketing. You have a lot on the line: $100m in sales for your women’s apparel line, mostly made in Asia. But sometime soon you will not be able to cover all the moral contradictions of your carefully sculpted pose.
When Roger Ailes was dumped by Fox for serial harassment – a new lawsuit was filed just this week – your father’s response was lame. This was hardly surprising given that Fox is the Trump network. He said he hoped you’d find another job(and boss) if you were hit on at work. As a trustee for Rupert Murdoch’s two young daughters, your own silence was preordained, but nonetheless disappointing.
And with dear dad backing rightwing GOP plans that eviscerate women’s health, the chimera that you would be a pro-woman influence was starkly revealed.
It’s hard to take your pledge to CBS’s Gayle King that you will live up to the highest ethical standards very seriously. You’ve worn too many interchangeable hats: manager of the Trump real estate empire, head of your own clothing label, presidential assistant and, most importantly, daughter. Though you have formally stepped away from some of these roles, your interests intersect and cannot remain separate for very long. If you thought joining the White House staff in an official capacity would help inoculate you against ethical questions, you can forget it. Being an official part of the administration with a broad portfolio just makes you fairer game.
When King pressed you about being complicit in the Trump agenda, your reply was laughably lame: “If being complicit is wanting to be a force for good … then I’m complicit.”
Complicit is when women who make millions from luxury brands appealing to affluent females should be called out when they fail to speak honestly about sexual misconduct in the workplace. I was a working mom too, and part of me wanted to believe that you would be a champion for women. But looking at your Instagram posts, which show you playing with your three adorable children, presumably after a day at work, or reposting celebrity speeches about paid leave, so much of what you’ve done looks to be yet another image campaign for brand building. Now it’s fair to ask, how are you actually going to help women?
The same could be asked of Delphine Arnault, the only woman on 21st Century Fox’s board of directors. Has she said a word to her dozen male colleagues, who include Murdoch pere and sons Lachlan and James, about O’Reilly? If ever there was a case of blatant corporate malfeasance, it’s surely the secret payments and toleration of blatant misconduct by Ailes and O’Reilly. Arnault is the executive vice president of Louis Vuitton Malletier and a director of Christian Dior. Both of these brands owe their success to the loyalty and money of women. Fees from these directorships alone have made her rich. Delphine, where do you stand on the misdeeds of either Ailes or O’Reilly? How do you justify your presence on the Fox boards and the fees you collect for that service?
Your brand will be tarnished by your silence and you will be remembered as the board member who didn’t say a word about Fox’s fevered misogyny.
You and Ivanka will eventually look hard at each other across the generations and you won’t much like the view. Both of your brands are fiction and everyone will know it.
For their part, the younger Murdochs have not made good on their pledge to clean up the Ailes mess by creating a corporate culture based “on trust and respect”. The O’Reilly cases, meticulously reported by The New York Times, were known to management while the Murdochs were busily drawing up a new contract for the blustery, harassing host. Women at Fox are reportedly extremely disturbed by the hypocrisy of the Murdoch clan. Until they usher out O’Reilly, the family is, to use Ivanka’s term, complicit in his conduct.
It’s impossible to cleanse all these deep ethical stains or separate Ivanka from the sins of the father. No matter how hard she tries to make it so, this is not Beauty and the Beast. It’s more like Macbeth.