Melania Trump is in the middle of a firestorm of allegations that she plagiarized parts of her Republican National Convention speech from a 2008 speech by Michelle Obama. However, how are the allegations against her different from past plagiarism allegations made against Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama?
Some made light of the comparison to Biden, especially, but others accused the media of a double standard.
Some pointed out that Donald Trump himself criticized Biden for those allegations. When Biden was considering running against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, Trump had said he would do well against him, CNN reported. CNN quoted Trump as saying: “I think I’d matchup great. I’m a job producer. I’ve had a great record, I haven’t been involved in plagiarism. I think I would match up very well against him.”
Many sites have run side-by-side comparisons of the Melania/Michelle passages:
Melania Trump, speaking at the RNC:
“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 life.”
“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, speaking in 2008, at the Democratic National Convention:
“And 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.”
But what did Joe Biden and Barack Obama do and are the allegations really similar? The biggest difference: Biden was running for president when he was accused of plagiarism, not a candidate’s spouse; he admitted plagiarism, although he downplayed it; and there was a pattern of issues, not just one. The Barack Obama comparison is more similar, as he was accused of lifting pieces of a speech from another politician; however, he was also the candidate, and Melania is not.
On Tuesday, Trump’s aides blamed Hillary Clinton and media bias for the Melania controversy, and said no one would be fired, CNN said. A journalist named Jarrett Hill first uncovered the similarities. However, another person, Meredith McIver, an “in-house staff writer” at the Trump Organization, now says she was responsible for the Michelle similarities in the Melania speech.
Here’s what you need to know:
Biden Admitted Committing Plagiarism in School & Called It a Mistake
According to The New York Times, Biden admitted he had plagiarized a law review article for a “paper he wrote in his first year at law school.” The Times said Biden had called the plagiarism a “mistake.”
Biden also claimed the copying was not “malevolent,” said The Times, explaining that Biden said he “had simply misunderstood the need to cite sources carefully.” The allegations arose in 1987 when Biden was running for president. Biden was brought “before the disciplinary body at the law school during his first year” over plagiarism allegations, said American Thinker, quoting an old New York Times article. The charges dated back to the 1960s, and didn’t go anywhere, says The American Thinker story.
Melania Trump has not admitted plagiarizing the passages in her RNC speech that journalists and commentators on social media say bear similarities to the talk by Michelle Obama. Some on social media are suggesting that a speechwriter may bear the blame; however, a new video has emerged showing Melania telling NBC’s Matt Lauer, “I read once over it and that’s all because I wrote it with as little help as possible.”
Watch that video here:
And watch the side-by-side comparison of the Melania/Michelle speeches here:
Trump’s campaign spokesman issued this response to the plagiarism allegations against Melania, according to CBS: “In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking. Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”
Biden Was Accused of Plagiarizing a Speech by Welsh Labour Leader Neil Kinnock
According to the Uk Telegraph, a speech by the Welsh Labour Leader Neil Kinnock was recognized as “a dramatic and powerful piece of political rhetoric – making it particularly tempting, but also unusually unwise, for Mr. Biden to borrow its most significant passage without attribution to the British politician.”
History.com says Biden had used lines from Kinnock before but always credited him; he got in trouble when he didn’t credit Kinnock at one appearance at a state fair.
Here’s what Biden and Kinnock said, according to The Orlando Sentinel:
Kinnock said, according to The Sentinel: “Why I am the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? . . . Was it because our predecessors were thick? . . . Was it because they were weak, those people who could work eight hours underground and then come up and play football, weak? . . . It was because there was no platform upon which they could stand.”
Biden said, according to The Sentinel: “Why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university? . . . Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? . . . Is it because they didn’t work hard, my ancestors who worked in the coal mines of Northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after 12 hours and play football for four hours? . . . It’s because they didn’t have a platform upon which to stand.”
Melania Trump is being accused of cribbing words from Michelle Obama in two paragraphs in her RNC speech. According to Slate Magazine, “Biden’s misdeeds encompassed numerous self-aggrandizing thefts, misstatements, and exaggerations that seemed to point to a serious character defect.”
Biden Took Details From Kinnock’s Life & Was Also Accused of Lifting Passages From Robert Kennedy
History.com says that Biden “even borrowed facts from “Kinnock’s life, stating inaccurately, for example, that he was the first in his family to go to college and that his ancestors were coal miners.” The History site also says that Biden was then accused of taking “passages from Robert F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey, and he was caught on camera exaggerating his academic credentials.”
Biden Left the Presidential Race in Part Because of the Plagiarism Allegations
Melania Trump is not the candidate; she is the candidate’s spouse. However, Joe Biden left the presidential race in 1988 in part because of the allegations. They received some media coverage again when President Obama chose Biden as his running mate.
Reported Slate in 2008, “The incidents of plagiarism and fabrication that forced Joe Biden to quit the 1988 presidential race have drawn little comment since his selection as Barack Obama’s vice presidential running mate.”
The Washington Post said other things contributed, including “the senator’s boastful exaggerations of his academic record at a New Hampshire campaign event; and the discovery of other quotations in Biden’s speeches pilfered from past Democratic politicians.”
Barack Obama Was Accused of Lifting Words From Governor Deval Patrick
According to Plagiarism Today, Obama was running against Hillary Clinton in the primary when he gave a speech in Wisconsin that “quoted a series of well-known speeches and documents from U.S. history, including those by Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy as well as the Declaration of Independence and asked if they were ‘Just Words.'”
As in the Melania speech, it didn’t take long for someone to unearth a YouTube speech of a 2006 talk given by Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts, says the site. Says Plagiarism Today, “In Patrick’s speech, he used many of the same quotes as well as very similar phrasing.” Obama said he shared ideas with Patrick, who defended him after the allegations were made, said Plagiarism Today.