By now you’re certainly aware of the controversy: Melania Trump spoke to the GOP convention and lifted several passages of her speech pretty much word for word from the convention speech given by Michelle Obama in 2008. It was only glaringly obvious. But Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort has a different opinion.
Manafort appeared on CNN’s New Day, where anchor Chris Cuomo asked him who should be blamed for Mrs. Trump’s blatant plagiarism. “Who takes the fall?” Cuomo asks.
Manafort, looking like he had a long, rough night, replies,
There was no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speeches. These were common words and values.
He goes on to say that, given the size of the audience, it would be “crazy” to think that Melania had deliberately used the First Lady’s words.
But Manafort knows exactly who is to blame for the controversy — Hillary Clinton. He continues,
This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, she seeks to demean her and take her down. It’s not going to work.
Cuomo ignores the shot at Clinton and returns to the question at hand. He asks Manafort why the campaign doesn’t just admit that Mrs. Trump had borrowed some lines from Michelle Obama without attribution (which is the textbook definition of plagiarism), “and move on?”
Manfort is adamant. “Certainly there’s no feeling on her [Melania’s] part that she did it. What she did was use words that are common words.”
She not only used “common words,” she arranged those words in pretty much exactly the same order that Mrs. Obama did, eight years ago. That’s a bit more than a coincidence.
Some on the right are revisiting 2008 today in order to attack liberals for not criticizing President Obama, who borrowed an idea from former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick during a speech. As usual, they miss the point.
First of all, Obama admitted that he used Patrick’s idea, as Cuomo accurately stated. What Cuomo could have added but didn’t is that the president said that Patrick had suggested he use his speech as a model for what to say. And, as a 2008 article at Plagiarism Today observed, Patrick’s and Obama’s speeches used quotes that are well known to most Americans, and come from historical events and documents.
This could be a controversy that is quickly swept away with just a few simple sentences of explanation. All they really need to say is that Melania was reading past speeches given by candidates’ wives, and inadvertently wrote some things that were very similar to what Michelle Obama said. That would likely be the end of the story. But by continuing to insist that the woman who aspires to be the next FLOTUS did nothing wrong, they are only digging the hole deeper.
Here is what Paul Manafort told Chris Cuomo, via CNN:[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfJz7rHVnts?rel=0]
Featured image via CNN screen capture