The Telegraph, a British daily, apologized to U.S. first lady Melania Trump on Saturday for a now-retracted feature that promised juicy details on the former model’s early life but was apparently riddled with falsehoods.
The outlet pledged to pay Trump “substantial damages” and cover her legal costs over the story, “which we accept should not have been published,” it said in a statement.
Titled “The secret life of Melania Trump: White House insiders, Slovenian school friends and photographers reveal all,” the story by journalist Nina Burleigh has been removed from the website after being published last weekend in the Telegraph’s magazine section.
The outlet’s list of corrections was long.
“Mrs Trump’s father was not a fearsome presence and did not control the family,” the statement began. Trump was also “a successful professional model in her own right before she met her husband,” and left university not because of an exam, but because she wanted to pursue a modeling career.
The Telegraph corrected the year in which Trump met her future husband ― it was 1998, not 1996 ― and said a claim that Trump’s mother, father and sister came to New York to live in buildings owned by Donald Trump was in fact false.
“The claim that Mrs Trump cried on election night is also false,” the statement said.
It concluded: “We apologise unreservedly to The First Lady and her family for any embarrassment caused by our publication of these allegations.”
In a statement of her own, Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s spokeswoman, slammed the news outlet and Burleigh.
“[Trump] often refers to opportunists out to advance themselves by disparaging her name and image,” Grisham wrote. “She will not let people and media outlets make up lies and false assertions in a race for ratings or to sell tabloid headlines.”
Burliegh did not immedately respond to a request for comment.