Despite widely circulated conspiracy theories and breathless media speculation that she was "missing in action," first lady Melania Trump attended a scheduled White House event honoring Gold Star families Monday evening.
Videos of the first lady at the event, which marked her first public appearance in more than three weeks after undergoing a kidney procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, were quickly posted on social media.
Images uploaded to Twitter showed the first lady wearing a sleeveless black dress and strolling into the East Room accompanied by President Trump. The president showed her to a seat in the front row before he headed for the stage.
Melania Trump had not been seen in public since May 10, when she and the president welcomed home three Americans freed from North Korea. Four days later, the White House announced she had been hospitalized to treat a benign kidney condition.
CNN and several other mainstream media outlets had been painting the first lady as “missing in action,” even though several observers pointed out that the first lady was spotted in the West Wing as recently as May 29.
Nevertheless, CNN’s “Reliable Sources” newsletter on Monday led with a giant graphic of a calendar, placing question marks on each date since Mrs. Trump was “last seen” on May 10.
Even though the network noted that Melania Trump was scheduled to appear at the Gold Star function monday, CNN’s Brian Stelter appeared to downplay the news because the event was not open to the public.
“BUT BUT: The event is closed to the press, so Monday evening may not resolve the mystery,” Stelter tweeted.
Meanwhile, Rolling Stone senior writer Jamil Smith on Sunday wrote on Twitter, “I wish that I didn’t suspect that the prolonged, poorly explained public absence of Melania Trump could be about concealing abuse. I wish that it was a ludicrous prospect.”
A spokeswoman for Melania Trump on Monday slammed a “rabid press corps” for the wanton speculation about her condition and whereabouts.
“Mrs. Trump has always been a strong and independent woman who puts her family, and certainly her health above all else, and that won’t change over a rabid press corps,” Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the first lady, told Fox News. “She’s confident in what she is doing and in her role, and knows the rest is just speculation and nonsense.”
Fox News' Brian Flood, Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.