Fashion model Melania Trump gave a much-anticipated speech to the Republican National Convention last night. Her speech actually stood out for not participating in the evening’s theme of fearmongering conspiracy babble, but that’s only because she plagiarized Michelle Obama to write it.
Interior designer and LA journalist Jarrett Hill was the first to take notice that Mrs. Trump had seemingly lifted a portion of First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. His tweets spread fast, and multiple press outlets began reporting the story by midnight. And although the Trump campaign isn’t using the word ‘plagiarism,’ they admit Melania used “fragments” to compose her remarks.
There’s no denying that Melania borrowed Mrs. Obama’s words without attribution. Naked, unwashed plagiarism like this would get you kicked out of East Podunk Community College:
I know, I know. Funny how well Republicans received the First Lady’s words when spoken by a white woman, right?
Within a couple of hours, video comparisons were rocketing across social media, news sites, and on live TV discussions that were still in progress at that late hour, such as MSNBC’s ‘Place for Politics’ coverage, where judgment was swift and complete.
Republican campaign strategist Steve Schmidt pronounced it a “disaster” for the Trump campaign. Lawrence O’Donnell unequivocally called for the person responsible to come forward and resign, while Chris Matthews demanded the Trump campaign fire someone immediately.
After all, the panel agreed, there was so much talk tonight about Clinton and accountability that if Trump can’t say his most famous words, “you’re fired,” in this circumstance, then it negates all pretense of his moral leadership, doesn’t it?
So that's pretty blatant, right? pic.twitter.com/EPnHME7afV
— Mike Hearn (@mikehearn) July 19, 2016
But there was still some amount of mystery about whom to assign blame.
Rachel Maddow pointed out that Melania had told NBC’s Matt Lauer earlier in the day that she had written her speech herself, with “little help.” Yet she couldn’t help but join the rest of the panel in speculating that someone else was at fault: perhaps a saboteur had sandbagged Melania, or one of the Trump sons were responsible, or an unknown staffer in a skeletal campaign had been asked to do too much.
But in a brief statement this morning, the Trump campaign insisted that “Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking.” While that amounts to an admission, it only deepens the sense of mystery, for we are left to ask who is on Melania’s writing “team” and what other “fragments” have been grafted into this verbal Frankenstein.
“I read once over it but that’s all because I wrote it with [as] little help as possible,” Melania told Lauer. I think we should take Mrs. Trump at her word here, and everyone should stop trying to think up alternative explanations, because it’s the Trump campaign’s job to give them. If Donald Trump can’t hold any named person or persons accountable for Melania’s act of intellectual theft, then his campaign doesn’t get to pretend that someone else is responsible for it.
Ask yourself if anyone would be giving a pass to Michelle Obama if she'd nicked a chunk of a Laura Bush speech.
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) July 19, 2016
Featured image: screengrab
UPDATE: Political Director Paul Manafort appeared on CNN this morning to deny it was plagiarism at all, because the words “were in her heart” — and then hilariously blamed the disaster on Hillary Clinton: “This is once again an example of when a women threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down. It’s not going to work.”
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 19, 2016