On Tuesday, the “Office of Melania Trump” account on Twitter posted a statement that may have been inspired by recent reports about the ex-first lady in People magazine and Page Six. (The statement constituted the account’s first tweet since December. Mrs. Trump and her Office strike a sustainable work/life balance.)

People’s articles, including one published on Monday, cite “sources” who say Melania is currently “angry” at her husband, Donald Trump, and “not comfortable” taking part in any of his campaign events, because his alleged affair with Stormy Daniels is in the news. (He was indicted for concealing a payment that was made to Daniels in 2016, but has pleaded not guilty and denies having had an affair with her.) By contrast, Page Six reported Monday that Melania and the former president “had a major talk over the weekend” and that she has “agreed to be on board” with the campaign.

Well, which is it? The public wants to know (I guess)! Unfortunately, the Melania statement does not clear anything up, or really say anything at all. Here it is in full:

News organizations have made assumptions about the former First Lady’s stance on subjects that are personal, professional, and political over the past few weeks. In these articles, unnamed sources are cited to bolster the author’s claims.

We ask readers to exercise caution and good judgment when determining whether or not stories concerning the former First Lady are accurate, particularly when they fail to cite Mrs. Trump as a source of information.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this block of text is that the GPTZero tool for detecting copy generated by A.I. chatbots says it is “likely” to have been written by A.I. Another detector, ZeroGPT, assesses a 63 percent chance that it was computer-created. To this arguably human observer, the formalism of the phrase “In these articles, unnamed sources are cited to bolster the author’s claims” stands out as machine-generated, as does the filler-phrase syntax of the words “the former First Lady’s stance on subjects that are personal, professional, and political.” (For a piece of writing that is only three sentences long, there is a lot of filler in it; as banal as many public relations statements may be, they mostly avoid employing book-report tropes like dictionary definitions and random lists of categories.)

On the other hand, the detector Crossplag assigns the text only a 15 percent chance of having been computer-generated. Melania Trump’s office did not respond to requests for comment on the matter made through multiple channels, including one sent to the “support” email address listed on MelaniaTrump.com, where images from a “Women’s History Month NFT Collection” featuring artistic depictions of Melania Trump’s face are available for purchase for $150.

Did the former first lady or her staff employ a text-generation program to describe her feelings about reportedly being upset that her husband has been charged with 34 felonies related to an alleged affair with a pornographic actress? We can’t say for certain, but she has put her name on less-than-original work before. In 2016, she delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention which included language copied from a speech Michelle Obama had given in 2008. In 2018, a BuzzFeed writer observed that a booklet about cyberbullying whose authorship was attributed by the White House to “First Lady Melania Trump and the Federal Trade Commission” had actually been released in largely identical form in 2014, before Donald Trump took office. (The White House’s announcement was then altered to say that the first lady “promoted” the booklet.)

Which is to say that even by the standards of modern image management, Melania Trump’s public persona is unusually untethered to any ideas or beliefs that are actually personal—although there may be some Freudian displacement at work in her advocacy for more dignified online behavior and higher standards of evidence and sourcing in public discourse.

In any case, the cycle in which Melania is said to have “distanced” herself from her husband after a controversial episode, only to creep back toward him like the path of a comet with an eccentric orbit until she is once again close enough to distance herself again as necessary, is expected to continue indefinitely. It’s the pattern that everyone and every thing with a connection to Trump—advisers, political allies and parties, cable news networks—will be following until he dies, which it is Slate’s official position that he will never do. Is it Friday yet?


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