Politics
First Lady Melania Trump speaks with President of Microsoft, Brad Smith, during a three-state tour for her "Be Best" initiative on Monday, March 4, 2019, at the Microsoft Executive Briefing Center in Redmond. 
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First Lady Melania Trump speaks with President of Microsoft, Brad Smith, during a three-state tour for her "Be Best" initiative on Monday, March 4, 2019, at the Microsoft Executive Briefing Center in Redmond.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Away from White House turmoil, Melania Trump tells Seattle 'Be Best'

As President Donald Trump braces for the release of the Mueller report, Melania Trump was visiting Microsoft on Monday to promote her “Be Best” initiative.

The topics for the visit include online safety and efforts to give kids with disabilities equal access to technology.

University of Washington history professor Margaret O’Mara said other first ladies have faced similar tensions between promoting uncontroversial causes and playing a public relations role for the president.

O’Mara said the first comparison that comes to mind is Pat Nixon, Richard Nixon’s wife, who kept a public face during Watergate.

“She was trying to sail above it all, but it was clearly something that was taking its toll on her,” O’Mara said.

Why did Melania Trump and the White House pick Microsoft for the visit over other companies? O’Mara said it’s because “they’re not Silicon Valley liberals and not Jeff Bezos.”

O’Mara said Microsoft is “reinforcing a message that it is the grownup in the room of the tech world, recognizing that tech needs a productive relationship with the White House and the federal government."

She added: “There is a wide and ideologically diverse consumer base for its products.”

For its part, Microsoft has touted parental controls and other safety resources to protect kids online.

The company has also created a new “adaptive” Xbox controller to help children with disabilities play video games.

Anat Caspi, who directs the Taskar Center for Accessible Technology at the University of Washington, says the controller is a giant step forward for parents who struggle to find these kinds of devices.

Earlier Monday, the first lady visited a school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and on Tuesday she will attend an opioids town hall in Las Vegas.

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