Melania Trump plagiarized RNC speech from Michelle Obama

Lots of buzz this morning over the news that Melania Trump plagiarized two key paragraphs in her keynote Republican Convention speech last night.

Who did Melania steal them from? Michelle Obama.

The side-by-side comparison of the two speeches is undeniable. Melania is guilty of plagiarism. Yet, the Trump campaign is digging in, denying the entire thing, and, incredibly, blaming it on Hillary Clinton.

Though Melania claims she wrote the speech herself, these things are always written by staff, and in fact, the Trump campaign admits that the speech went through various staffers. It’s therefore extremely likely that a soon-to-be-fired Trump campaign staffer stole the sections from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech. Fire that staffer, admit the mistake, and be done with it — the controversy is over. But not Donald Trump. Trump’s campaign manager went on TV this morning and blamed Hillary Clinton for the entire thing.

NY Daily News cover Melania Trump plagiarism

Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort said this morning that whenever Hillary Clinton is threatened by a woman, she demeans her. Manafort added that the talking points in Melania’s speech are “common words and values.”

UPDATE: Recently-ousted Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski says that if current campaign manager Paul Manafort approved the speech, he should resign:

The media to its credit isn’t accepting the Trump campaign’s excuses or denial. It clearly happened. Here’s the Washington Post’s analysis, damning headline, caption and all:

Melania Trump plagiarism

And here’s the side-by-side video. It’s like watching Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole sing that duet:

Let’s compare the two speeches. CNN did a great graphic that makes it clear:


One of the best ways to defuse a controversy/scandal is to admit it, fix it, and move on. Had Donald Trump simply admitted that a staffer screwed up, and that the staffer was disciplined and/or fired, the entire brouhaha would be over. The media would mention the mistake, maybe show the side-by-side of the two women speaking, and conclude by saying Trump apologized for the glitch and fired the staffer, and it would be done with.

Instead, Trump is being Trump, ego-driven and always refusing to apologize. Manafort, his campaign head, was just vicious this morning going after Hillary over all of this.

Mediaite has Manafort’s reaction:

“Well there’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech,” Manafort said with a sheepish laugh. “These were common words and values, and she cares about her family.”

“She was speaking in front of 35 million people last night. She knew that,” Manafort continued, before remarkably figuring out a way to implicate the failed policies of Hillary Clinton in his response (“This is once again an example of how when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, she tries to demean her and take her down”). They’re just “common words,” said Manafort, despite the overwhelming evidence that the 2008 address was essentially transcribed at parts with a few words and phrases swapped out using only, I imagine, Microsoft Thesaurus.

Manafort falsely added that it was the Clinton campaign who first discovered the plagiarism, somehow suggesting that this makes the controversy less valid. In fact, it appears to be a writer and interior designer named Jarret Hill:

Interestingly, Donald Trump had a different view of plagiarism last year when he criticized VP Joe Biden for Biden’s own plagiarism scandal from law school, that was widely reported during Biden’s 1988 presidential run. Biden was forced to withdraw from the race as a result of the controversy.

What Trump’s campaign — aka Trump himself — is doing is feeding the story. The campaign issued a response that simply was not credible, which will invite the media, and the Clinton campaign, to reporter further on the controversy, respond to the new allegations from Manafort, giving the story yet another news cycle. And rather than have last night be about Melania Trump’s beauty, grace and intellect — hers was in fact a good speech — all we’re talking about today is why Melania stole parts of her speech from Michelle, and why she wont’ simply admit it.

The Washington Post agrees:

Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention bore some significant similarities to Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic convention eight years ago.

Calling this “amateur hour” – while accurate – doesn’t quite do justice to what a debacle this has quickly become for the Trump campaign. It is the dominant storyline out of the first night of the convention and threatens to swamp day two.

Basic vetting would have set off alarm bells. This is the kind of rookie mistake that a serious congressional campaign would never make.

Ultimately the buck doesn’t stop with Melania, it stops with Donald. He’s the one running this show. And he thinks not-backing-down is a virtue. And sometimes it is. But sometimes it simply makes matters worse. And your wife ends up paying for it, as does your entire campaign.

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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23 Responses to “Melania Trump plagiarized RNC speech from Michelle Obama”

  1. woodroad34 says:

    What’s more interesting to me is that they brought out the speech writer and blamed her for the faux pas. She lamented the issue on Trump stationary — not Trump campaign stationary, but the Trump Organization stationary — hinting that he’s using company resources and the campaign not reimbursing the organization…which apparently violates campaign finance laws. There’s a complaint from a democratic PAC to the FEC about this (it should be noted that Jeb Bush filed a complaint about a Trump Organization attorney being used on the campaign)

  2. nicho says:

    Can you really “plagiarize” platitudes and cliches?

  3. nicho says:

    When you sign up to be a courtesan for a bombastic buffoon, you have to expect stuff like this.

  4. heimaey says:

    This is a red herring. Now people are talking and making jokes about this and not paying as much attention to what else is going on there. Furthermore, her speech has been heard more than it ever would have been otherwise, and the public is getting more comfortable with her – even if it is in a bad way (again there is no bad publicity in Trump’s mind – only no publicity). You have to have been born yesterday to believe this isn’t deliberate.

  5. nell2 says:

    Oooh, next time I’ll be sure to switch my computer’s font over to “snark” for literalists like you.

    And “unkind”? Melania Trump signed on when she came to the United States for the sole purpose of setting her sights on marrying a rich powerful American businessman.

    She succeeded. Good for her. She’s danced to the music for nearly twenty years and now it’s time to pay the fiddler.

    This is politics, and to borrow a phrase, it ain’t beanbag.

  6. Doris Medley says:

    <<o. ✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤:::::::!bc278p:….,..

  7. I did feel sorry for her until someone reminded me that Melania responded to anti-Semites attacking journalist Julia Ioffe on Twitter by saying that Ioffe brought it on herself.

  8. fry1laurie says:

    Let no one else’s work evade your eyes,
    Remember why the good lord made your eyes,
    So don’t shade your eyes,
    But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize –
    Only be sure always to call it please ‘research’.

    Tom Lehrer – Lobachevsky (as told to Melania Drumpf)

  9. Outspoken1 says:

    I was speechless (unusual for me!) and appalled at the use of Queen’s music for Trump’s coronation….er, nomination. How typical of the Republicans to use anything for their propaganda while creating party platform statements against the character and humanity of someone like Freddie Mercury (even though he was British).

  10. Outspoken1 says:

    Unkind and untrue comment. She speaks English quite well. I greatly admire anyone who is multi-lingual. The problem is the speech writers’ plagiarism of which she was probably unaware.

  11. Bill_Perdue says:

    This is the week when the race to the bottom is on in earnest. Unfortunately for us it’s going to be a dizzying descent for both major right wing parties, Democrat and Republican, and all their candidates.

    American workers are in for quite a show and had better be prepared to laugh at their pettiness and cry at their candidates callousness as they vie for the bragging rights as the most rabid racist, warmongering and anti union party in the whole wide world.

    No one in their right mind should pay any attention to Trump or H Clinton. What we should do is criticize them and ridicule them because it’s only going to get worse. ”To knock a thing down, especially if it is cocked at an arrogant angle, is a deep delight of the blood.” George Santayana

  12. Kenster999 says:

    Oh, come on, be fair… it’s not EVERYTHING!

    It’s mostly just the Mexicans. And the Chinese. And Muslims. And probably the gays. And women.

  13. JaneE says:

    I actually feel sorry for Melania. She is the one taking the knocks for whoever actually stole the lines. Or the whole thing could have been planned from the outset to generate more free press for Donald. Either way she is diminished by it. I really doubt that this is what she bargained for when she married.

  14. Hue-Man says:

    We have nothing to fear… except EVERYTHING!

  15. Hue-Man says:

    Nah, just throw the junior staffer under the (campaign) bus. You’re fired!

  16. nell2 says:

    The Trump campaign often brags that Melania Trump speaks and understands five languages. They simply neglect to point out that English isn’t one of them.

  17. heimaey says:

    Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson: “This concept that Michelle Obama invented the English language is absurd.”

    How do you respond to this idiocy?

  18. The Queen thing ticked me off.

  19. BeccaM says:

    While Trump has an uncanny sense for attracting media attention by saying outrageous things literally almost every single day, what he and his campaign lack is message discipline and a sense of what would help versus what hurts.

    This here is a case in point. Smart reaction? Admit it, try to claim it wasn’t plagiarism but an homage to the current First Lady and use it to point out that even the political opposition can have good ideas which bear repeating, but say something like, “But perhaps we shouldn’t have done that.” In other words, bury it under a blizzard of niceness and just a touch of mea culpa.

    Dumb reaction? Acting as if the Internet’s collective memory doesn’t exist, or that it’s controlled by and in the personal service of Hillary Clinton. Replacing the rueful shrug with spittle-flecked rage over the fact the cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech was noticed — as it inevitably would have been by someone, somewhere.

  20. Draft of Trump’s acceptance speech leaked!

    “Four score and seven years ago…

    I have a dream…

    Ask not what I can do for you, but what can you do for me!”

  21. Badgerite says:

    What makes “common words” plagiarism is that they are the same words used in the same order.
    But, really, how do we know, for sure, that it wasn’t Michelle Obama who plagiarized Melania Trump?
    How do we know, for sure, that Hilary Clinton didn’t mess with the teleprompter?
    I think they should ban all of the speeches at the RNC Convention until we can “figure things out”.
    Plus, it will make for a more pleasant and informative evening.

  22. Quilla says:

    Theft. A Trump value.

    Taking your money, your land, your music, your shoes, your words, your soul…

    Important election, yes?

  23. 2patricius2 says:

    Queen’s music for Donald’s entry. Michelle’s words for Melania’s speech. And then a lying response. Typical for the Donald and his campaign.

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