A week after saying he hates first lady Melania Trump — and calling her “as ugly on the inside as she is pretty on the outside” — sex columnist and anti-bullying advocate Dan Savage laughed off the idea that he had bullied the first lady.
He also added a new accusation that the first lady is “winking at anti-Semitism.”
Savage, who is also an author and executive producer of ABC’s “The Real O’Neals,” said on his “Savage Love” podcast Tuesday that he may have gone too far in saying last week that he hates Melania Trump, but added that he does hate or strongly dislike things she’s done.
Savage enraged critics when called Melania Trump a plagiarist birther who has used lawsuits to silence critics. On Tuesday, he played angry voicemails from people who defended the first lady by insulting Savage’s looks, using homophobic insults or accusing him of bullying.
Savage said the bullying allegation was absurd.
“Bullying involves powerful people or a powerful person picking on a weaker person,” Savage said. “In the grand scheme of things, the first lady of the United States and the president of the United States, these billionaires with access to nuclear codes and drone technology? They are more powerful than a sex advice columnist with a podcast and a filthy mouth.”
Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, founded the “It Gets Better” movement in 2010. It has collected videotaped messages from people — including President Obama — promising gay, bullied teens that their lives will get better.
Melania Trump said before Donald Trump won the presidency that she would fight cyberbullying as first lady.
On his podcast Tuesday, Savage said he’d forgotten a criticism of Melania Trump in last week’s podcast — accusing her and her husband of “winking at anti-Semitism.” He criticized Melania Trump’s response last year after Trump supporters barraged Jewish GQ writer Julia Ioffe with anti-Semitic attacks after she profiled the future first lady.
“I don’t control my fans,” Melania Trump said at the time. “But I don’t agree with what they’re doing. … There are people out there who maybe went too far. She provoked them.”
Savage said Donald Trump declined to call on his fans to stop the anti-Semitism. Donald Trump told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer at the time: “I don’t have a message for the fans.”
Savage said that amounted to a signal that “this kind of anti-Semitic abuse is okay.” (Trump supporters have denied past accusations of anti-Semitism by noting that his daughter, Ivanka, converted to Judaism when she married Jared Kushner, who has become one of the president’s top advisers.)
After playing the voicemails Tuesday, Savage backtracked on saying he “hates” Melania Trump.
“Hate may have been too strong a word,” Savage said. “I strongly dislike some of the things she stood behind, things like… birtherism. Things like her vile husband. …. I do hate the not-insignificant role Melania Trump played in disinhibiting the bigots out there.”
People of all political stripes have argued in the past that presidents’ families should be off-limits in the criticisms of their policies. But Savage said last week that President Obama’s right-wing critics didn’t apply that rule to Michelle Obama.
“I don’t know if you can impeach a first lady or how that would work, but I do know that we would have found out pretty f–ing fast if Michelle Obama had said the same during her husband’s presidency,” Savage said.