"Looking forward to serving alongside John Kelly as we work for the American people," Ivanka Trump posted to social media on Monday, welcoming the new White House chief of staff into his role.
Buried within that seemingly innocuous statement, however, her detractors believe is a subtle clue as to how the first daughter sees her role in the White House. What could it be? As it turns out, just one word.
"Ivanka's use of ‘alongside' — even if unintentional — suggests a remarkable sense of her own role in the West Wing and will likely complicate Kelly's plans to rein in the unruly White House," Jon Levine wrote in Mediaite. "Alongside? This disrespectful tweet is a case for amending the anti-nepotism law to apply to White House -after OLC rev'd its 40yr precedent," tweeted Walter Shaub, who resigned as director of the United States Office of Government Ethics last month. MSNBC and The View parsed Ivanka's use of the word as well.
Ivanka Trump works in the White House. John Kelly works in the White House. Yes, Kelly is chief of staff, thus Ivanka falls under his authority. Yes, "serving for" or "serving under" would accurately describe her relationship to Kelly. But both "alongside" and "under" can be true without one being inaccurate. Those who serve together can serve alongside one another in a general sense as well.
Commentators brazenly asserting her use of "alongside" was a signal from Ivanka indicating that she sees herself as Kelly's equal are engaging in nothing more than conjecture. For many, that conjecture appears to be rooted in a blinding contempt for the Trump family that leaves no room for rational analysis. Speculation is sometimes part of the job for political commentators, but the stretches drawn from this one word in an otherwise-friendly post from Ivanka was rather over the top.
I get it — it's fun to play amateur psychologist and key in on particular words to draw broader conclusions about a person's motives. But those using their media platforms to do so should pause and consider whether that wild speculation is a worthy or responsible use of their megaphones.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.