Melania Trump's RNC Speech Triggers Plagiarism Allegations
Posted on July 19, 2016
Of all the controversies to come out of the first night of the Republican National Convention, a plagiarism controversy is the last thing we expected. Melania Trump, wife of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, gave her first major public speech. She speaks five languages, but English is her third language, so she understandably seemed a bit nervous when she began speaking. But as she went on, she did an excellent job talking about the values her parents instilled in her, how much she loves America and why her husband is ready to be president. There was only one tiny problem: two portions of the speech appear to be lifted directly from Michelle Obama's 2008 speech to the Democratic Convention.
CNN shows clips of the two women's speeches which have sections that are pretty much word for word. Melania spoke for ten minutes, and the rest of the speech appears to be original. But the similarities between the speech have caused a huge furor which is being covered nonstop on television today.
Melania told NBC that she wrote the speech herself with some help. The Trump campaign has given differing explanations of what happened. From what we can gather Melania wrote a draft or told a speechwriter what she wanted to say, and that someone else edited it and punched it up. The campaign won't say who did that, but all the experts agree that the speech of the candidate's wife is the most highly vetted speech of the week, especially if she is not a professional writer or public speaker. So it is clear that someone really dropped the ball here. A competent editor would have googled the speech and found the similarities quickly.
The latest explanation of the speech came from RNC Chief strategist Sam Spicer is one that you would use in a court of law during a copyright infringement lawsuit. He argued that her words are commonly used and that a simple google search will turn up similar words used by everyone from Akon to John Legend to My Little Pony's Twilight Sparkle. John Legend immediately took a page from Taylor Swift's book, tweeting, "I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative."
I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative https://t.co/I46VtY2CXI— John Legend (@johnlegend) July 19, 2016
Mrs. Obama has not commented on the controversy yet. But it seems clear that the Trump campaign needs to hire some experienced, qualified speech writers and editors immediately.