How Tom Ford Got Pulled into a Fake News Scandal Involving Melania Trump
Reminder: Don't believe everything you read on social media.
First things first: No, Tom Ford did not call First Lady Melania Trump a "glorified escort" who "has bad taste in men."
The luxury fashion designer became a trending Twitter topic on Tuesday morning after a now-deleted tweet falsely attributing the incendiary words to Ford went viral. The post, from user @fras99, featured a split image of the designer-cum-Hollywood director and the first lady with the text: "I have no interest in dressing a glorified escort who steals speeches and has bad taste in men."
A spokeswoman for the brand tells InStyle, "This is an absolutely fabricated and completely fake quote attributed to Mr. Ford that has somehow gone viral. Mr. Ford did not make this statement; it is completely false."
After deleting the tweet, the same user later posted a Washington Post article which featured a two-year-old quote that the designer gave during an appearance on The View while promoting his film Nocturnal Animals.
“I was asked to dress [Melania Trump] quite a few years ago and I declined. She’s not necessarily my image,” he said. “Even had Hillary won she shouldn’t be wearing my clothes, they’re too expensive. I don’t mean that in a bad way; they’re not artificially expensive, it’s how much it costs to make these things. I think the first lady has to relate to everybody." (Donald Trump, being Donald Trump, responded to Ford's quotes at the time by saying that the designer "was never asked" to dress FLOTUS, adding "I never liked him or his designs. He’s never had something to dress like that [pointing to his wife, who was in the room at the time].”)
As was pointed out back in 2016, former First Lady Michelle Obama once wore his designs to an official White House-related event, however the occasion was a high-profile visit to the Queen in London.
But regardless of what was true, by midmorning, the falsely-attributed quote had already spread faster online than a California wildfire through the Sepulveda Pass. On social media, some users applauded the brash quote, while others called for a boycott of the brand. It wasn't until a few journalists began digging into the origins of the supposed quote that the tweet began to unravel.
The Fashion Law pointed to a 2018 Science Magazine report which only confirms this danger of the spread of "fake news," specifically politically motivated "news." The authors of "The Spread of True and False News Online," who are affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote that false news travels "significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information," adding that more users are likely to retweet false claims. A prime example: the Tom Ford fiasco.
Unfortunately, the study's authors didn't provide us a specific game plan for combating the spread of false news (other than investing more money into more research) so for now we're doing our best to put the truth out into the world. We're shooting our shot, internet.