What do you think about the latest development in the Ivanka saga? I mean Us magazine, obviously.
Mitchell, Seattle, Washington
Greetings, Mitchell! It may rain nine months of the year in Seattle, as Niles from Frasier memorably informed us (in Sleepless in Seattle, not Frasier, though, confusingly), but I am thrilled you have sought shelter from the storms in this column. Please note my admirable restraint in not making a grunge joke because even I accept that would look a little dated (whereas quoting Sleepless in Seattle proves I truly surf the cutting edge, of course).
As our friend from (not very) sunny Seattle says, the Ivanka train rattles on. How to get through a week in which, on the one hand, your father is publicly called a liar by the former director of the FBI and, on the other, your husband is about to be interviewed by the Senate intelligence committee about his attempts to establish a back channel with Putin? How can Ivanka look after the most important thing of all? What, her morals? Her sanity? Heavens no! This is a Trump we’re talking about here so I am, of course, referring to her brand.
Fortunately, Us magazine, an American celebrity weekly, has ridden in to the rescue. Now, as I am bilingual, I can, fortunately, explain Us to British readers. Imagine Heat magazine with less irony and more exclamation marks. It was Us that coined the two greatest contributions to American journalism: Who Wore it Best?, a regular feature in which readers vote on which celebrity looks better in a certain outfit, and Just Like Us!, in which the magazine marvels at pap shots of celebrities such as Gwen Stefani doing everyday things, such as picking up dog poo (not an exaggeration), proving they are Just Like Us. And not, you know, gods, as we all previously assumed.
Last week it was Ivanka’s turn to grace the cover, and it’s the coverline that really makes this a timeless classic of American journalism: “Ivanka Takes a Stand: Why I Disagree With My Dad – Balancing her personal ideals with love and loyalty to her father, the president’s daughter will always fight for what she believes in.”
Once I stopped rolling on the floor shrieking “More like ‘Balancing her PR management with greed and hypocrisy, Ivanka will continue to do nothing and reap all the rewards,’ amirite, America?!” I put my professional journalist glasses on and did the important journalist work of actually reading the story inside. And what a story! Not a single original quote from Ivanka to Us but plenty of puff quotes from anonymous sources (“Remember, don’t believe “sources said” by the VERY dishonest media. If they don’t name the sources, the sources don’t exist” – Donald J Trump). There is even more puffery from the anonymous journalist who managed to take dictation from Ivanka’s PR and write lines such as, “But Ivanka is the best woman for the job” without, apparently, throwing up their own inner organs.
Look, we all know Ivanka Trump is, essentially, a joke. Not a funny one, granted, but a joke nonetheless. She never had a job she didn’t get from her dad. She claims to care “passionately” about working mothers and yet was reluctant to provide her own employees with eight weeks’ paid maternity leave. Her idea of working hard is not getting a regular massage. She is, essentially, the Gwyneth Paltrow of the Republican party, who was discussed on this page last week, although, given Gwyneth finds Ivanka’s father’s presidency “exciting” maybe it would be more accurate to say she’s another Gwyneth Paltrow. Which, of course, was just what the US needed. Vive la revolution!