We first became familiar with Louise Linton last year, when she threw a tantrum on social media when someone called her “deplorable” after she bragged about a taking a taxpayer-funded day trip to Fort Knox and tagged the IG post with all of the designers she wore. She only became Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s third wife last year, and she easily fell into every stereotype about a golddigging third wife to a nouveau riche dude. I mean, she grew up in a castle in Scotland, so it’s not like she was born to hustle, but she just seems very crass and gauche, and like a living example they should give to every rich man: you get what you pay for. Anyway, Louise Linton is worried about her image. She’s worried that the peasants hate her. So she sat down with Elle Magazine for a piece that honestly reads like satire. It’s not satire. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:
Super-duper: She’s fond of the expression super-duper. She is “super-duper” sorry for all of the missteps in her self-presentation. She finds the idea of doing a reality TV show, which many people have floated to her in recent months, to be “super-duper” scary.
She loves Snapchat: She enjoys taking cute selfies with Mnuchin using the Snapchat filters that make people look like puppies and piglets. Against her husband’s wishes, she shows them to me. (“I didn’t even know she had Snapchat,” her press rep says, faintly concerned.)
She loves dogs but not homeless people: She is obsessed with dogs, especially sick ones. So much so that she once made friends with a homeless man named Richard in a park in Los Angeles because she was concerned about the health of his dog. She wound up paying the vet bill.
Why she threw a tantrum on social media: “I think after being kicked and slapped on social media a billion times, I had this one time. This lady said I was a deplorable human being, and that hurt,” Linton says, her voice trembling in sincere horror and self-pity. Her hands are shaking. “So I had this knee-jerk reaction and I was like…blarghhhh. I was feeling like a regular person. And regular people, when someone says something mean to you on social media, regular people are allowed to respond.” It’s clear that she identifies much more strongly with a battered dalmatian puppy than Cruella de Vil. “I felt like the kid on the playground that has been so bullied, and finally you punch back…. I was so stupid… I wish I could take it back. I wasn’t thinking about who I am. I wasn’t thinking, I am the wife of this person and thus I should act like the wife of this person.”
Her memoir, In Congo’s Shadow: One Girl’s Perilous Journey to the Heart of Africa: She painted herself as a Mother Teresa figure bravely navigating the all-encompassing threats of Mother Africa. She wrote of being frightened of rebels targeting her, the “skinny white muzungu with long angel hair,” and of her “special comfort in my bond” with an orphan, a “smiling gap-toothed child with HIV whose greatest joy was to sit on my lap and drink from a bottle of Coca-Cola.” The book—the type of thing that would have gone wholly unnoticed if it weren’t such a stark example of white upper-class privilege—was received so poorly that Linton took it out of print and issued a public apology. It also sparked a Twitter hashtag, #LintonLies, detailing its myriad inaccuracies (the Daily Telegraph, which had run an excerpt, eventually withdrew the article from its site and issued an apology). “My greatest sorrow is that the effect of my book was the exact opposite of what my intention was,” Linton says now.
How her BFF Shona Hampel explains how out-of-touch Linton seems: “Louise was blessed and fortunate enough to be raised in a Scottish castle, and to not understand the reality of some human beings with a different background.”
Is she narcoleptic? Mnuchin makes an effort to bring her friends into their lives. He’s invited Hampel and her family to stay with them multiple times. “She can fall asleep anywhere. She’ll fall asleep on the sofa in front of a film and he’ll carry her up to sleep. And then she’ll fall asleep in the bathroom,” Hampel says.
Elle was super-duper shady about how they wrote that piece and how they framed so many of Linton’s quotes, and I am super-duper into what they did. Linton obviously agreed to the interview because she thought “it’s Elle, it will be soft-focus, I’ll get to show a more human side” so while she’s going on and on about how she’s super-duper normal, Elle is couching her quotes with information about her mansion on Massachusetts Avenue and making her sound like… well, what she is. A vapid trophy wife. There’s nothing wrong with being a vapid trophy wife, mind you. I would give up my current gig in a heartbeat to sit in a mansion and wait for my rich husband to come home. But the problem was always “what parts of Linton’s life are taxpayer funded?” and “wow, she comes across as extremely tacky for the wife of one of the most powerful men in the country.”
People were also clutching their pearls about the Elle photos of Linton. I mean… should she have worn pants for her photoshoot? Sure. But why would we expect a cabinet secretary’s third wife to wear pants? We are setting the bar too high.
— Kate Bennett (@KateBennett_DC) February 13, 2018
Photos courtesy of Elle and Getty.