Let’s ask the experts: Teachers, did Melania Trump plagiarize Michelle Obama?

In this combination of photos, Melania Trump, left, wife of Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, speaks during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016, and Michelle Obama, wife of Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Monday, Aug. 25, 2008. Melania Trump’s well-received speech Monday to the Republican National Convention contained passages that match nearly word-for-word the speech that first lady Michelle Obama delivered in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention. (AP Photos)

After Melania Trump’s speech last night at the Republican National Convention, journalist Jarrett Hill noted striking similarities to Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech. The allegation of plagiarism caught fire on social media, which responded with memes and the spoof #famousmelaniatrumpquotes.

Here is an audio comparison by Jamie Dupree of WSB Radio that vividly highlights the similarities.  It’s in two parts and here is the second.

I assumed it was a matter of similar phrasing, but the resemblances in the women’s speeches go deeper. Some of the wording is identical. My own theory: Researchers helping Melania Trump write her speech emailed her examples of other speeches. In the flurry of copy and pasting, some of Michelle Obama’s language ended up in Melania Trump’s speech. 

How serious is the plagiarism?

In a TV interview, the governor of my home state of New Jersey set a new standard, The Seven-Per-Cent Absolution. Gov. Chris Christie contends Melania Trump cannot stand accused of plagiarism, saying, “Not when 93 percent of the speech is completely different than Michelle Obama’s speech.” Wonder if students will now tell their teachers, “Only 7 percent of this paper is not my own work, thus it is not plagiarism.”

I thought we should consult the experts, people who deal with plagiarism every day.

So, teachers, tell us: If you were marking Melania Trump’s speech, would you ding her for copying Michelle Obama?

Melania Trump last night: 

From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily lives. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

Michelle Obama in her 2008 speech:

“Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them. And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

Melania Trump:

“I was born in Slovenia, a small, beautiful and then-Communist country in Central Europe. My sister, Ines, who is an incredible woman and a friend, and I were raised by my wonderful parents. My elegant and hard-working mother, Amalija, introduced me to fashion and beauty. My father, Viktor, instilled in me a passion for business and travel. Their integrity, compassion and intelligence reflects to this day on me and for my love of family and America.”

Michelle Obama:

“And I come here as a daughter — raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue-collar city worker and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.”

 

Reader Comments 0

642 comments
MathTeacher3.14
MathTeacher3.14

Is that Melania Trump or Kaitlyn Jenner? I can't tell from the picture.

insideview
insideview

Yes, she would get a zero, and a parent conference. The real issue is if you can't make sure your wife doesn't give a plagiarized speech, how can you run the government? Trump said he was going to hire the " best" people. If the best people  humiliates  your wife by giving her plagiarized speech to read on national TV, you might want to rethink your idea of the best.

Sean Thomas Hooks
Sean Thomas Hooks

Was anybody else bored to sleep by the time melania trump started her speech?

Matthew Dorsey
Matthew Dorsey

Well, seeing how they both use a speech writer, she didn't plagiarise anything. Her writers did. She read what was given to her. Trump for President!! Trump Trump Trump Trump!!!

Jerry N. Wesner
Jerry N. Wesner

I would expect Ms.Clinton at least to participate in the creation of her speech; she's an expert at spontaneous public speaking.  Ms. Trump has never needed that skill before and may, or may not, have taken part in preparing the speech.  

Daphne-Vickie
Daphne-Vickie

But on national tv melania said she wrote it with very little help...that would also make her a liar.

Harper Gladwell
Harper Gladwell

Keep in mind we are talking about 7 lines in a 15 min speech and lines Michelle took from seven habits of highly effective people book. Hopefully they teach how Obama plagiarized as well. Hopefully, they explain why their salaries grew at a higher rate than GDP. Hopefully, they teach Obama's failed economic policies that shrunk middle class, moved home ownership to newly 50 year low, and created a labor participation rate at 20 year low while he raised debt ceiling 3x to 19 trillion that THEY will have to payback. THEY will face higher healthcare. THEY will live in an America that's less safe for fear of terror and hate. There's only one hope for change. Hillary Rodham Clinton will be an extension of the failed leadership of Barack Hussein Obama.

Jerry N. Wesner
Jerry N. Wesner

Bush II destroyed our economy and our standing with other nations; Obama restored them.  How is that failed leadership?

lighteredknot
lighteredknot

Why doesn't the AJC go ballistic over the egregious lies of Hillary presented by the media, more so the litany list of lies on Comey's FBI rendition.  If A   Repub had been caught in such lying, it would never end.  Hillary is simple a lying, incompetent person, and should never be put in WH as Prez. If Obama's word is his bond, I can place a litany list of , most of the time when he is engaged in speaking, most of it is lies and his word is not his bond. For Michael to say it is beyond fatuous  and if not so dangerous would be laughable.  Move on with the caravan with some important issues.

Brenda Mary
Brenda Mary

Amen J Michelle Kingston.let the truth be told.

Katherine Moody Carey
Katherine Moody Carey

Mrs. Trump got a zero on her assignment in my high school English class. Since she used someone else's words, I cannot give her a grade because she has not earned one. Now, I have to call her mother and explain why she made a zero. Then, I have to complete a discipline write-up form and submit it to my administration. Then, I have to create an alternate assignment to give her so that she can pass and graduate; we do not want our school's state CCRPI assessment score to list us as a failing school because then the Governor would take over our school. Mrs. Trump, why couldn't you just have written your own words in the first place?

Crystal Lee Ware
Crystal Lee Ware

Yes. Plagiarism. Zero in the grade book, parent conference scheduled.

Tillie Vilsaint
Tillie Vilsaint

Teachers don't dig back on two years old, seven years old paper to search for plagiarism.

insideview
insideview

Cause the Trump organization made it news , by lying and denying everything. They should admitted it was a mistake , and moved on.

GA Blanco
GA Blanco

Does that even matter? The potential First Lady doesn't even read her speeches or have any historical context of previous speeches done. She's uneducated and poorly trained. The trump family is all about: lack of integrity, morals and healthy family values. Horrible example of world leaders. And teachers--- there's a difference between misquoting and not quoting versus straight up copying and pasting. What her speech writer did is what gets all students an "F" in school and everybody knows it. No one read that speech and THATS the problem. When it comes to important issues, she's a robot-- not a free-thinker within the confines of American values. She doesn't think for herself and that's exposed now.

Dan Mack
Dan Mack

So I guess this is more serious than 3000 deleted emails on an illegal server!

insideview
insideview

No, but two wrongs don't make a right.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

It seems that Melania Trump had chosen Michelle Obama's words herself and gave them to Ms. McIver over the phone and Ms. McIver has now acknowledged that she did not check out those words carefully.


The original speech writers of Melania's original speech were well vetted speech writers, but Melania Trump dumped their speech in favor of developing her own speech, and probably because she was not comfortable in delivering the speech the professional speech writers had written. Thereafter, Melania chose McIver, a friend and intimate in the Trump clan, to help her with it.  McIver is a professional ballet dancer and former English major in college who had written many of Donald Trump's earlier speeches.


At least McIver had enough character to admit the truth, unlike Paul Manafort, the manager of the Trump Convention, who claimed no plagiarism had been done (probably because of some Trump higher-up's direction or even from Trump, himself, imho.)

Fay Severin
Fay Severin

She lied when asked if she wrote her speech!!

Michael-Kelly Miller
Michael-Kelly Miller

You can't hold her accountable, she wasn't taught about plagiarism at the college she graduated from to get her architectural degree... wait....

Charles Bradley
Charles Bradley

Can't we all just get along .lol You can't hate all your life .\U0001f600

Jean Mapp
Jean Mapp

Hillary is not doing anything wrong okay why she did,nt do it of her own life or her husband life the speech should have being on her life or her husband,s life of business of her life work as a model ..of her life.

steveyb
steveyb

Plagiarizing killed Joe Biden's 1988 presidential campaign, so at least for some people it is a serious issue, whether committed by a candidate or a wife. Most of these comments are tainted by political views rather than serious analysis of the issue at hand. That's what's wrong with America these days. Too many people look through a lens rather than adopt a moderate stance and view politicians objectively.

Anita Johnson
Anita Johnson

And the plagiarism of our Vice President who plagiarized a whole speech!!

Geekaboo
Geekaboo

For those who can't see that Michele's speech was plagiarized please do not teach.

weetamoe
weetamoe

From Bookman's exaggerated "extensively cribbed" to Downey's printing two whole paragraphs, the AJC is still focused on Mrs Trump who is not a candidate. The AJC editors refuse to print the entire transcript of James Comey's report of the FBI investigation of Mrs Clinton. Comey presented facts.The FBI report is legitimate news. There is not much of that in the AJC.

Catfish1953
Catfish1953

There is no reason to hate Obama or Clinton. Why do so many conservatives HATE them. Yes I believe thw speech was copied

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Catfish1953


This election is neither about Trump nor Clinton.  It is about the kind of America we will be, and about what kind of world we will become, as exemplified in the ideas contained in the minds of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Donald Trump and Donald Trump's children have seduced a large part of America and that may grow as people hate Hillary more and more.


This is a warning.  We are at a critical time in America's history.  Obama, Hillary, Bernie, and Elizabeth Warren all know it.


Please stop talking about people and events and start talking about ideas.  That is what will affect all of our lives in the future.  America is going to be, again, an imperialistic, hierarchical empire, or we are going to become the America of our Founding Fathers' dreams - an America of enlightenment, education, egalitarianism, and a model for the world of that enlightenment. Harshness and cruelty vs. humanity and eternal truths. It is that simple.


These are the ideas at stake for our nation.  Georgia may very well determine that choice for humankind.

Nancy Fuller
Nancy Fuller

Really we need to know as US citizens because there is nothing else to worry about !!!!!!!

trifecta_
trifecta_

If the goal of Melania's detractors is to distract voters from the damning conclusions of the FBI investigation into Hillary's emails—the effort is futile.

Rhonda Chambers
Rhonda Chambers

The funny thing is she took it from the wife of a man who trump calls incompetent.

Rhonda Chambers
Rhonda Chambers

I've seen people in high school not being allowed to walk at graduation!

Michael Steven Bartlett
Michael Steven Bartlett

Schools (middle and high) these days WILL NOT allow you to fail a student for plagiarism. Most policies call for a grade reduction which is preposterous because we know it will earn you an F at most colleges and noted on the FINAL TRANSCRIPT. That's how it works in the REAL WORLD!!!

Jan Newberry
Jan Newberry

Michelle didn't write her speech. She just read what somebody else wrote. Hell what's the big deal??? It doesn't matter anyway!

Nai Regreb
Nai Regreb

Lol, Michelle got it out of a book. Has already been proven

Curtis Pace
Curtis Pace

Nobody cares she is not running for president nor ever been in politics! She only wrote part of speech

HowdyJune
HowdyJune

No - she didn't.  To plagiarize, you must duplicate at least 8% of another's material and Melania only duplicated 7%!

insideview
insideview

@HowdyJune She may be the first lady, she shouldn't duplicate any, nor should the trump organization make excuses for mistake. Be accountable for your work.