First Lady prods media to cover opioids as much as ‘gossip’

LAS VEGAS (AP) – First lady Melania Trump prodded the news media on Tuesday to spend as much time highlighting the opioid epidemic at it devotes to “idle gossip or trivial stories”.

Mrs Trump said she wished the media would talk about the epidemic more “and educate more children, also adults, parents, about the opioid crisis that we have in United States.” She spoke during a town hall-style discussion in Las Vegas about the epidemic that claimed nearly 48,000 American lives in 2017. “They do it already, but I think not enough.”

The first lady suggested the epidemic should be leading the news when host Eric Bolling – who addressed her as ‘Lady M’ – asked what else the media could do.

“I think it should be on every media and the front pages of the newspaper, and I’m sure a lot of people would follow and go home and talk with the children and educate them, so they are responsible adults and they show them how drugs can be dangerous,” she said. Her audience of several hundred people, including entertainer Wayne Newton, was seated in a theatre where Elvis Presley once performed at the Westgate hotel and casino.

Mrs Trump used the event to close a two-day, three-state promotional tour for her ‘Be Best’ initiative, which includes a focus on babies born dependent on opioids. Bolling, a former Fox News host, lost his only child, 19-year-old son Eric Chase, to an accidental drug overdose in September 2017.

During remarks before she answered questions from Bolling, the first lady encouraged the public to look beyond the raw numbers and see the opioid crisis as a “human story”.

First Lady Melania Trump speaks during a town hall meeting on the opioid crisis as part of her ‘Be Best’ initiative on March 5 in Las Vegas, Nevad. – AFP