Melania Trump Defends Work on White House Tennis Pavilion Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

March 8, 2020 Updated: March 8, 2020

First Lady Melania Trump defended her work on the new White House tennis pavilion after photos she shared on Twitter of her supervising the construction project received backlash amid the global coronavirus outbreak and a tornado that struck Tennessee, killing 24 people.

“I encourage everyone who chooses to be negative (and) question my work at the ⁦White House⁩ to take time and contribute something good (and) productive in their own communities,” she wrote on Twitter on March. 7.

The first lady added the hashtag “BeBest,” to the post, in reference to her public awareness campaign focusing on well-being for youth, and advocating against cyberbullying and drug abuse, highlighting America’s opioid crisis.

In her initial Twitter post on March. 5, the first lady shared a series of photos of herself wearing a hard hat and looking over what appeared to be architectural plans for the development of a tennis pavilion on the south grounds of the White House.

“I am excited to share the progress of the Tennis Pavillion at The White House. Thank you to the talented team for their hard work and dedication,” she wrote.

However, critics were quick to claim the photos were insensitive in light of the global outbreak of coronavirus and accused Trump of being “out of touch.”

Others also referenced the recent tornado which ripped across Nashville and other parts of Tennessee on March. 3, killing at least 24 people and critically injuring others while destroying more than 140 buildings, according to The Associated Press. 

In response to the First Lady’s original post, actor, activist and former fashion model Mia Farrow wrote on Twitter: “29 people were killed by a tornado in Tennessee, the world is shuddering as a pandemic expands and what is a tennis pavilion?”

Connie Schultz, wife of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), also wrote on Twitter: “Millions of Americans seek assurance that this administration is doing all that it can to stem spread of the coronavirus, but the First Lady wants us to know she’s ‘excited’ about her new tennis court. People are scared. Flaunting a lack of empathy inflicts further harm.”

Construction began for the tennis pavilion back in October and it will be located on the South Lawn of the White House, near the Children’s Garden. The White House has said it is being funded by private donations.

In a news release at the time, the first lady said, “Architectural inspiration for the pavilion is drawn from the White House, with the end goal of the new structure on the south lawn complementing and contributing to the People’s house. It is my hope that this private space will function as a place to gather and spend leisure time for First Families.”

Last week President Donald Trump visited Nashville and Cookeville, in Putnam County, to survey the damage caused by the devastating tornado and meet with survivors where he shared praise for the rebuilding efforts.

“I have a message for the families of those that lost their lives: We love them; they’re special people. It’s an incredible place, an incredible state. Tremendous heart,” he said.

“Already, you see people rebuilding. I mean, it took place literally hours ago—a couple of days—and they’re already rebuilding,” he added. “It’s just great people. It’s a great state. And they have great leadership in this state, and that’s why it’s working out like it is.”