It’s a slow news week so I’ve seen a score of stories about Melania Trump’s decision to cut down a historic tree at the White House. Naturally, at least one news outlet turned the story into some kind of accusation against the First Lady, but as you can see in the video below this tree is ready to collapse. The tree was planted on the South Lawn of the White House nearly 200 years ago by President Andrew Jackson to honor his late wife. From CNN:
After a brutal presidential campaign in 1828, Andrew Jackson’s wife, Rachel, died just days after his election; according to historians, Jackson believed the particularly divisive campaign contributed to his wife’s untimely demise. When he took up residence in the White House as a widower following his inauguration, it is believed Jackson insisted on planting a sprout from Rachel’s favorite magnolia tree from the couple’s farm, Hermitage, in Tennessee.
That tree eventually grew into the sprawling magnolia the American public has come to know and recognize to this day. (A companion magnolia was planted on the opposite side of the South Portico years later for symmetry.) The official Jackson Magnolia has been in the background for numerous historic events, from state arrival ceremonies and Easter Egg Rolls, to thousands of photo ops, social and athletic activities, and countless Marine One departures and arrivals. Ironically, the tree stands directly behind where the press is currently penned during these occasions, now perilously close to the weakened giant.
So this really is a historically significant tree. The White House called in experts from the National Arboretum who concluded it represents a danger and would have fallen years ago if not for a system of steel cables:
“The overall architecture and structure of the tree is greatly compromised and the tree is completely dependent on the artificial support. Without the extensive cabling system, the tree would have fallen years ago. Presently, and very concerning, the cabling system is failing on the east trunk, as a cable has pulled through the very thin layer of wood that remains. It is difficult to predict when and how many more will fail.”
Based on the advice from experts, Melania Trump made a decision to remove the tree. So Newsweek went with this headline and photo:
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) December 26, 2017
Newsweek wasn’t alone in going with this misleading headline:
When the tree is 200 years old and could fall on someone at any point in time, but you have to push your narrative and paint the Trumps negatively: pic.twitter.com/mFh7SHMShj
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) December 27, 2017
But Newsweek was singled out by the First Lady’s spokesperson, as Fox News reports:
“Newsweek’s bias and disdain for the First Lady and our administration was on full display when they actively chose to use a false headline instead of practicing responsible journalism. This is why Americans’ trust and confidence in mass media continues to fall,” Melania Trump Communications Director Stephanie Grisham told Fox News…
White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino Jr. called Newsweek’s headline “100% misleading” and added the hashtag, “#FakeNewsweek.”
Speaking of clearing dead wood, why is anyone reading Newsweek at this point? The magazine was junk before it got sold for a $1 in 2010. To be fair, it seems the editors are trying to be nice to the First Lady today:
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) December 27, 2017
Here’s CNN’s video report showing the condition of the Jackson Magnolia. It will come down this week but a new Magnolia tree will be planted in its place.