Caving to backlash, Bette Midler says she was wrong to mock Melania Trump’s accent

Bette Midler
Bette Midler’s comments on the 2020 Republican National Convention have sparked a backlash on Twitter.
(Michael Nagle / For The Times)

Bette Midler has walked back controversial comments she tweeted about First Lady Melania Trump during the 2020 Republican National Convention.

On Tuesday, the stage and screen icon drew sharp criticism for calling Trump — who immigrated to the United States from Slovenia — an “illegal alien” and mocking her accent during her RNC speech. Midler has since addressed the divisive remarks on Twitter.

“Well, all hell has broken loose because I said Melania ‘still can’t speak English’ last night,” Midler tweeted Wednesday afternoon. “I was wrong to make fun of her accent. America is made up of people who speak with all kinds of accents, and they are all welcomed always.”


In addition to inaccurately tweeting that Trump “still can’t speak English,” Midler knocked the first lady’s “Be Best” initiative and challenged her mastery of other languages as well. Trump is fluent in both English and her native Slovenian.

“#beBest is back! A UGE bore!” Midler tweeted Tuesday. “She can speak several words in a few languages. Get that illegal alien off the stage!”

Among the many who shamed Midler for her outburst were former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and the forthcoming star of Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” Rachel Zegler — who noted that “21% of people living in the United States speak a language other than English at home.”

A 2010 report from the United States Census Bureau states that “while the vast majority of the population 5 years old and over in the United States spoke only English at home (80 percent), the population speaking a language other than English at home has increased steadily for the last three decades.”

“You don’t have to like Melania Trump— I don’t either,” Zegler wrote. “But the ability to ‘speak English’ does not measure one’s intelligence. At all.”

Amid mounting criticism, Midler followed up on her tweets Wednesday morning, claiming that her intent was to hold the Trump administration accountable for its attitude toward immigration. President Trump’s stances and action on immigration have been widely condemned by many Americans as racist, xenophobic and cruel.


During Trump’s presidency, authorities have separated and indefinitely detained scores of migrant families at the border. And amid the pandemic, authorities have expelled migrants — including unaccompanied minors — with no chance to seek asylum or access to COVID-19 testing in the name of “public safety.”

“Just giving them a taste of their own immigrant bashing medicine,” Midler wrote. “I guess they’re not keen.”