10 times Ivanka Trump made a controversial TV appearance
Of the three eldest Trump children who have followed in their famous father’s business, media, and political footsteps, Ivanka Trump has historically appeared to be the most poised and the least, well, self-aggrandizing. In fact, during her 2003 appearance in the aptly titled documentary, Born Rich, the only daughter of exes Donald Trump and Ivana Trump was widely praised for seeming down-to-earth and hard-working compared to the rest of her wealthy (and, ahem, spoiled) onscreen counterparts. “I’ve known since I was born what I wanted to do,” Ivanka told GQ back in 2007. “… I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else. Ever. Not even as a little kid. I feel like somehow I’m genetically programmed.”
Determination aside, that doesn’t mean this real estate mogul and reality star-turned-presidential advisor hasn’t occasionally given her brothers, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, a run for their money when it comes to making headlines for all the wrong reasons. In some cases, Ivanka’s found herself at the center of a media storm through little fault of her own. But from shady comments to cringe-worthy moments, this Trump kid has also shown the kind of ruthlessness that’s turned her family into one of America’s most powerful.
Here’s a look at ten times Ivanka Trump caused controversy on the small screen.
Ivanka Trump's 'horrendously nervous' TV hosting debut
Ivanka Trump didn’t seem concerned about criticisms of nepotism when she agreed to co-host the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant — staged by her dad and the organization’s then-owner, Donald Trump, of course — without any notable on-air experience. An audience of millions watched the youngster, who was only 15 at the time, fluff her way through the high-profile gig. Alongside co-host J. Eddie Peck, “teen expert” Ivanka regularly became tongue-tied in front of the cameras and was prone to asking contestants slightly cringe-worthy questions backstage, including this post-swimsuit round clanger (via Express): “I can guarantee my brothers were loving that, are any of you single?” Yikes.
As one AOL reporter put it two decades later, Ivanka’s hosting debut was “awkward” and, well, “funny.” The writer added, “The precocious teen hadn’t quite gotten camera-comfortable yet, and the result was a slightly over-acted performance where she pursed her lips a lot, smiled uncontrollably and tripped up her words.” Hey, on-air bloopers have happened to the most seasoned of TV host pros.
Still, as Vicki Ward described in her book about Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner — titled Kushner, Inc. — the then-teen seemed “horrendously nervous” throughout the event. However, the journalist did concede that Ivanka would “recover and mature” in this regard as she got older and continued to give TV appearances, adding that “Ivanka’s glossy looks and poise eventually became an important extension of [her father’s] brand.”
That creepy father-daughter Trump appearance on The View
Donald Trump has raised eyebrows on numerous occasions when it comes to his conduct toward his oldest daughter. In 1996, a teenage Ivanka Trump was pictured on his lap as he sat on a statue featuring two mating parrots in a shoot for Vanity Fair. He later told shock jock Howard Stern (via Independent) that “she’s got the best body,” and on another appearance described his daughter as a “piece of a**.” In 2004, The Donald claimed to New York Magazine that “every guy in the country wants to go out with my daughter.”
However, Donald’s most questionable comments about Ivanka came about when she was also in attendance to hear them firsthand. In 2006, the pair visited the set of daytime TV institution The View to promote the latest season of The Apprentice — yet few were talking about the reality show by the time their interview ended. Instead, it was Donald’s highly inappropriate remarks about his daughter that grabbed everyone’s attention. Pointing to his future presidential advisor, he said, “She does have a very nice figure. I’ve said that if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
So how does Ivanka feel about being the subject of such icky talk? Well, a year after The View awkwardness, she told Harper’s Bazaar, “There’s no doubting my father values beauty, but in my formative years, I never thought he valued it to the point that it should make me uncomfortable.”
Did Ivanka Trump dump her boyfriend on TV?
We’re not sure if this was a Matt Damon/Minnie Driver situation, or whether film producer James “Bingo” Gubelmann already had advance warning. But even so, Ivanka Trump proved that she’s not afraid to reveal news about her love life in a very public manner when she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 2005.
According to Insider, the former model had been dating Gubelmann for four years, having mixed in the same New York City circles for most of their lives. The couple were regularly photographed together attending high society events during their courtship. Interestingly, they even ended up working together in 2003 when Ivanka appeared in her boyfriend’s Born Rich documentary.
But the Express reported that while gracing Jay Leno’s late-night set, Ivanka announced that she and Gubelmann were no longer an item. The future political figure claimed that they would remain “good friends” … although there’s been little evidence of any contact between them since. Gubelmann’s IMDb page states that he’s since produced more than a dozen films, including Nicolas Cage vehicle The Runner and Chekov adaptation The Seagull. In 2016, the Daily Mail reported that he was arrested for cocaine possession alongside Maroon 5 bassist Mickey Madden, prompting Ivanka’s ex to “enter a treatment readiness program.”
Ivanka Trump was groped by Andy Dick during a TV appearance
Ivanka Trump once again found herself in the headlines for a talk show appearance in 2007 — but on this occasion, it was fellow Jimmy Kimmel Live! guest Andy Dick whose behavior toward the heiress made everyone feel uncomfortable. Not exactly renowned for his decorum, the comedian got a little too handsy while positioned next to Ivanka on the late-night show, rubbing her legs without permission after noticing they were covered in glitter. Understandably, she didn’t appreciate this invasion of her personal space and slapped his hands away as the titular host warned him not to do it again.
After Ivanka asked, “Oh wait, did I say I was single? I thought I had a boyfriend,” Kimmel was forced to physically restrain the funnyman when his hands continued to wander, begging him, “Andy, please don’t. Donald Trump will kill both of us.” Dick was eventually escorted off the set. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kimmel told Extra that his nuisance guest didn’t apologize for his behavior and didn’t seem to grasp what all the fuss was about.
When the clip resurfaced a decade later, Dick wrote of the incident on Instagram, “The time I ‘groped’ Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Her legs were sparkling, and I was trying to see if the glitter would wipe off. I also mistakenly thought she would date me. I was jokingly carried off by security. Is anybody going to carry [Donald] Trump off? No joke. Confusing times.”
The Trump kids admitted on TV that Ivanka is their father's 'favorite' child
In 2015, all but one of Donald Trump’s children — nine-year-old Barron Trump was unsurprisingly considered too young — sat down with the legendary Barbara Walters for a televised interview in the run-up to the following year’s presidential election. When the siblings were asked if their father had a “favorite” child, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Tiffany Trump unanimously agreed — and were fully accepting — that Ivanka Trump is the chosen one. The golden girl herself didn’t do anything to correct them in the special episode of 20/20.
Judging by her CNN interview a year later, Ivanka has always had her father at her beck and call. Recalling her pre-teen private school years, the heiress revealed she’d often spend recess calling her dad while hiding in the janitor’s closet, noting that no matter what company he was keeping, he’d always answer on speakerphone: “It was colleagues, it was titans of industry, it was heads of countries. He’d always tell everyone in the room how great a daughter I was and say cute things and ask me about a test I took.”
Of course, Donald himself had already made it pretty clear who’s most likely to get the bigger inheritance in a 2004 chat with New York Magazine. When asked if he had a preference between his two daughters, the business tycoon responded, “Come on! Daddy’s little girl!” To clarify, he was definitely referring to his eldest.
Did Ivanka Trump try to market her jewelry line on TV?
Ivanka Trump proved that she’d inherited her father’s love of product placement with a seemingly shameless bit of TV advertising for her jewelry company in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. While appearing on 60 Minutes, the businesswoman sported a bracelet worth approximately $10,000. Shortly after the episode aired, NBC News reported that Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry had sent out a “style alert” email to fashion journalists promoting the piece from its Metropolis Collection.
It’s not known whether Ivanka was aware of the email in question, but that didn’t stop criticism that she was allegedly trying to profit from the coverage of the election. Shifting the blame on a “well-intentioned marketing employee,” the company’s president, Abigail Klem, stated in part to the news outlet, “We are proactively discussing new policies and procedures with all of our partners going forward.”
Of course, this wasn’t the first time that Ivanka had been caught up in such a furor, either. At the Republican National Convention earlier that same year, she wore a white floral outfit from her own fashion line. Thankfully, for those who wanted her to copy her look on this occasion, Us Weekly reports that the price came in at a slightly more affordable $158.
That time Ivanka Trump attacked her father's critics on Fox & Friends
The Trump family sure can dish out the criticism. Barely a day goes by without at least one member, and it’s usually Donald Trump on Twitter, taking a potshot at someone. But they appear to have all sorts of problems when it comes to accepting it — especially when it comes from members of the press.
While appearing on Fox & Friends in 2017, Ivanka Trump argued that the type of criticism directed toward her father’s presidency had gone far beyond her expectations. She told the morning show hosts, “Some of the distractions and some of the ferocity, I was a little blindsided by on a personal level.” However, the heiress did acknowledge, “But this isn’t supposed to be easy. My father, and this administration, expects to be transformative.”
Just a week earlier, Eric Trump had claimed that he’d “never seen hatred like this” in an interview with Sean Hannity on the same network (via the Daily Mail). He went on to add that those who dared to speak out about his father were “not even people,” alleging that all “morals have flown out the window.” Meanwhile, Donald Trump Jr. went much further in 2019, publishing his Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us book, which was essentially a 300-something page rant against the Trump administration’s critics.
Ivanka Trump caught flack after calling a line of questioning 'inappropriate'
Allegations about his abusive behavior toward the opposite sex have dogged Donald Trump throughout his political career. In fact, according to The Atlantic, no fewer than 19 women had come forward to make a claim of sexual misconduct against the president by the time that Ivanka Trump sat down for an interview with NBC News in February 2018.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Donald’s eldest daughter was in no mood to address such accusations when the subject came up in her chat with Peter Alexander. She told the interviewer, “I think it’s a pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter if she believes the accusers of her father when he’s affirmatively stated that there’s no truth to it. I don’t think that’s a question you would ask many other daughters. I believe my father, I know my father, so I think I have that right as a daughter to believe my father.”
This refusal to discuss the matter enraged several critics, including Vogue‘s Bridget Read, who argued that the heiress was guilty of being selective when deciding whether to speak as a senior White House representative or as Donald’s daughter: “Actually, Ivanka, it is entirely appropriate to be asked to address the behavior of your boss — especially when you claim to use the position, access, and platform he affords you to advocate on behalf of women in the workplace.”
Ivanka Trump got policy wrong during a controversial TV interview
Ivanka Trump didn’t exactly cover herself in glory when she appeared on Good Morning America in November 2018 — for the presidential advisor didn’t seem to be aware of a controversial immigration policy that her father had only just implemented days before.
In a Thanksgiving Q&A, Donald Trump revealed he’d given authorization for troops to “use lethal force” against any asylum seekers and migrants at the US-Mexican border. “If they have to — I hope they don’t have to … I have no choice,” he claimed (via CNN), before asserting with no shred of evidence, “You’re dealing with a minimum of 500 serious criminals.” Yet less than a week later, his eldest daughter claimed that nothing of the sort had been officially approved.
When asked about the matter by Deborah Roberts, Ivanka replied, “I don’t believe that that’s what he said, but his primary role as commander in chief is obviously to protect the nation’s borders — he has to protect our country’s security. But I don’t … lethal force in this case would — that is not I think something that anyone’s talking about.” However, the well-prepared interviewer made sure she came with the receipts and subsequently showed footage of Donald’s “stunning” remarks. Ivanka tried to brush things off, claiming that the president was only talking about lethal force as a “last resort” for those who allegedly pose a serious threat to national security.
Ivanka Trump attempted to pass the buck on immigration during a TV appearance
The issue of immigration got Ivanka Trump into hot water once again when she was interviewed on Face the Nation in December 2019. When questioned about her father’s controversial policy of separating migrant children from their families at the US-Mexican border, the presidential advisor immediately tried to pass on the responsibility.
“Immigration is not part of my portfolio, obviously,” Ivanka told Margaret Brennan. “I think everyone should be engaged, and the full force of the U.S. government is committed to this effort to border security — to protecting the most vulnerable. That includes those being trafficked across our border, which this president has committed to countering and combating human trafficking in an incredibly comprehensive, aggressive way.”
Unsurprisingly, Ivanka’s buck-passing didn’t go down well on social media. The Democratic Coalition’s Stephanie Kennedy posted on Twitter, “Whoa! Slow that roll, Face the Nation. Ivanka’s staying in her tidy, lazy little lane. Trump’s systematic torture plots to terrorize immigrant families and their children are simply NOT Ivanka’s issue.” Meanwhile, Newsweek columnist Naveed Jamali tweeted, “What a load of s**t. What qualifies Ivanka Trump to have an opinion on anything she is talking about?”
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