Ethics Observations On The Melania Trump Plagiarism Fiasco


1. Republican and Trump supporters who are making excuses for the embarrassing incident sound exactly like the Hillary Corrupted denying that there was anything wrong with using a private e-mail server for official communications. No, the plagiarism isn’t trivial. No, it is not mitigated by referencing how horrible Hillary Clinton is. No, you can’t argue that the similarity was a coincidence because the sentiments in both are generic and common.

2. The incident is especially significant because it shows how spectacularly incompetent the Trump campaign, and the Republican Party under Trump, are. And these are the people who are going to fix “everything,” though they can’t avoid a self-inflicted gaffe like this on the very first night of the convention?

3. This is the first test of whether Trump will enforce accountability, as he claims he will. The speechwriter or writers who permitted this should be canned, as should whoever assigned them to Trump’s wife and oversaw the program. Would that be the campaign manager, Paul Manafort? If nobody is fired (as the current rumor has it), that will be one more indication of Trump’s phoniness.

4. There is talk that this was intentional internal sabotage, designed to make Trump look bad through his wife. I doubt it, but if that was the case, what a miserable, cruel, cowardly thing to do.

5. Some Melania defenders are trying to show that Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech was itself plagiarized. Irrelevant. Melania’s speech was dishonestly represented to the convention and the nation as her own, and that is equally true whether Michelle’s speech was original or lifted from Cicero.

6. This was such incompetent plagiarism, too. Writes Ann Althouse, “Good Lord, change the words. Swap in synonyms. What are they paying you for?”

7. Regardless of the speechwriters’ role, the individual ultimately responsible for the plagiarism is Melania Trump. She spoke the words. She assumed responsibility for them. She even claimed that she substantially wrote the speech herself: too bad that wasn’t true. The one way to make sure your speechwriters aren’t cheating is not to use speechwriters. Personally, I feel that if you can’t write your own speech and speak for yourself, don’t make speeches.


30 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On The Melania Trump Plagiarism Fiasco

  1. Melania certainly has a promising future in print and electronic media. I am sure MSNBC, the Boston Globe, FOX and the NYT can find a spot for her.

  2. “Personally, I feel that if you can’t write your own speech and speak for yourself, don’t make speeches.”

    Hell, yeah!

      • Hardly “all of them” ! So does Chris Christie and Giuliani. Obama mostly writes his speeches. If you’re a President and have to give speeches constantly, that’s understandable. “Don’t have time to write them all” isn’t the same as “can’t write them.” I guarantee you that I’d write my own speeches as often as I could.

        What is Melania so busy doing, her nails?

  3. I would tend to blame this on Melania’s speech writers for this fiasco. They should all be fired. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and take her for her word that she didn’t deliberately plagerize.

    • I did address this. If you hire someone to put word in your mouth, its up to you to vet them. And if I were a candidate’s wife giving such a speech, I’d check the videos of the last few speeches by those in my position. If she did, then she should have known, if she didn’t—well, its her fault.

      • Eric Turkewitz observed that if you outsource your marketing, you outsource your ethics, to which the folks at Popehat added that you also outsource your reputation. This observation applies to speechwriting as well. If you’re giving a speech, you’re solely responsible for its content, and if you blindly trust people to do your work for you, then you fully deserve the screwing over you’ll probably get.

    • A Trump writer actually took the blame, stating that she was listening Milana reading to quotes she found inspiring, including Michelle’s speech. The writer then accidentally including the notes in the final final speech. Donald did not accept her resignation, because “mistakes happen”.

      #7 Applies so strongly here, as Milana should have recognized the very quote she allegedly found inspiring!


      Milana is a true idiot, carelessly not reading the speech ahead of time AND/OR ignoramusly not recognizing her own contributed quote from Ms. Obama,


      The speech writer had no real input from Milana, plagiarized Obama herself, AND and used this incompetent excuse that makes Milana look like an true idiot (as per above), rather than merely willfully careless (having no input or personal review of the speech).

      Possibly, the speech writer did this to protect her own butt, by blaming the quote on Milana than herself. This was either a brilliant maneuver, as Trump couldn’t fire her without implicitly calling his wife an idiot, or it was just idiocy all around.


      It was true idiocy all around.

        • Between Milanna, her speech writer, and Dr. Carson there might be a full three quarters of a brain….

          After sleeping on it, what I find truly disappointing is the missed opportunity here. Milanna Trump almost made the most important speech of the entire week at the RNC, a speech that she was in a unique position to deliver, and could have changed the entire course of the campaign.

          Had Milanna given credit to Michelle, she could have truly emphasized the common values between Democrats and Republicans, and have put her husband on public notice that blind denigration of the other was now unacceptable. Milanna could have delivered this speech to stunned silence, because no delegate would dare “boo” the wife of the presumed nominee. Writers for other speakers would scramble to remove partisan trashing.

          Unlike Cruz, who principled speech was booed and heckled, Milanna is apolitical, with zero aspirations, and finds her husbands antics exhausting. Booing her would ensure the full wrath of Donald Trump. He is, if nothing else, a doting family man. Cruz has lowered himself into the mud and is fair game. Trump would not be below leading the booing of Cruz himself.

          If Milanna, stepping out of the shadows, called out Democrats as respectable and worthy of emulation, Donald would have to listen, or destroy his last shred of credibility by publicly embarrassing his wife every time he gratuitously insulted Democrats. Milanna might have been the only person who could reign in her husband. Certainly, her children are too ambitious themselves to denounce their father.

          If, IF, Milanna had as much input as the speech writer claims, she almost had something important to say. She did not want the position of First Lady, but almost stepped to the roll thrust upon her by poor choices and moral and dumb luck.

          She, however, proved herself too dull and too lazy to do more than provide candy to Donald’s arm. Mrs. Trump has no interest in promoting any vision of civility or unity. The Mr. Trump status quo remains.

  4. These events are beneficial in weeding out my list of serious journalists/opinion writers. No one who rightly condemns this plagiarism is added to my reading list, but those who try to spin it are taken off…

  5. The juxtaposed portraits are telling. The comparison makes Michelle look warm, happy, open and real (four words I would never have applied to her before). And if you hadn’t already used Wilde’s portrait-in-the-attic example recently, I would have placed the one on the left up in the rafters under the roof: sly, guilty, tasteless and false. … this is sort of what happened to Nixon up against Kennedy, isn’t it?

  6. It’s kind of interesting to see longtime Trump dyed-in-the-wool supporters (like Jeffrey Lord) have to finally begin saying (slightly) negative things about the campaign. But, there are still others, like Kayleigh Mceanany and Katrina Pierson, who will defend him through any- and everything, and spin like an unstable top all the while.

    I don’t know why, but I find spin to be one of the most despicable non-violent actions a person can engage in, which is why I have so much disdain for defense attorneys and press secretaries. There’s something that is so deeply insulting when someone tells you that the obvious conclusion you have come to, really isn’t what you think it is. “Trust me, not yourself..I have no reason to lead you astray”. Plus, it just smacks of desperation, lack of accountability, lack of honesty, lack of reason, and screams “I’m smarter than you”. Or, “I know Im lying, you know I’m lying, but I’m too invested in the lie, and too chicken s*** to ever change course, so I’ll continue to lie to your face, and if I flap my wings hard enough, you’ll forget the original lie.” I despise people like that.

    One rung below that are people who refuse to answer a question asked of them in an interview. “I don’t know if Melania plagiarized, but what I will tell you is that Hillary is the real liar here….” We get it; Hillary is an awful person. But stop seeing everything through the partisan “what they do is worse” lense, and answer the damn question!

    Sorry, I just had to get all that off my chest. 🙂

  7. I’ve written too much about this already, so here is the latest, including more ridiculous excuses and rationalizations from Trump mouthpieces and GOP officials.

    I must confess, I have nothing but contempt for these people. If the Republican Party isn’t embarrassed, they are beyond redemption. I suppose its partly my fault too…if anyone paid attention to this blog and I had real influence, maybe the fact that I TOLD THE PARTY THAT IT SHOULD REJECT TRUMP AS A CANDIDATE ALMOST A YEAR AGO might have had some influence.


  8. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the rick-rolling lines in the speech “He will never give up and he will never, never let you down.” It’s the only reason I find the accusation that someone was deliberately sabotaging her somewhat plausible.

    • I assumed that one was an homage, not plagiarism. That’s famous, so it’s like saying that the words of the prophet are written on the subway walls and tenement halls. Very different from lifting a chunk out of a speech that nobody remembers.

      • I wasn’t thinking it was plagiarism, only that no sane and competent speechwriter in the US would put it in a serious speech unless they wanted to make the speaker look foolish. OTOH, they work for the Trump campaign…

  9. Great piece, Jack. And Trump’s inability to admit a mistake was made in this case reflects a serious character flaw. I am embarrassed for the Trump lackeys who are trying to insist no plagiarism occurred.

  10. From a friend in greater NYC, the breeding ground of most good jokes:

    Melania quote “these accusation hurt not only me, but my children, Sasha and Malia”..

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