All hell broke loose during the overnight hours following Melania Trump’s keynote speech on opening night of the Republican National Convention. What was supposed to begin presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s unification of the GOP and sowing of harmony among those who have opposed him quickly descended into a night of accusations, conjecture, and finger-pointing after Jarrett Hill, a recently laid-off journalist, noticed something familiar in parts of Melania’s speech. Hill looked up Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention address and found striking resemblances in the speech’s construction. He pointed out the similarities on Twitter and the keen observation immediately went viral.
Pundits, experts, and journalists have had a field day parsing whether the words Melania spoke were stolen or not. Here’s the evidence so you can decide for yourself.
First, let’s go to the video tape:
Next, let’s go to a text comparison:
On Tuesday morning, the Trump campaign shifted into full damage control mode — well, as much as the Trump campaign is capable of doing damage control. Campaign manager Paul Manafort, speaking during an appearance on CNN, issued a flat denial that any text from Melania Trump’s speech was lifted from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech. “To think that she would do something like that knowing how scrutinized her speech was going to be last night is just really absurd,” Manafort told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also dismissed plagiarism accusations, saying, “There’s no way that Melania Trump was plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s speech.”
So, then, have one more look at the video evidence.
As the scandal deepened, pundits turned attention to the person or people who wrote the speech, suggesting that the speechwriters may be responsible for the apparent plagiarism. In an additional statement, the Trump campaign’s senior communications adviser said, “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.”
However, in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer in the hours before she delivered the address, Melania Trump said this about the preparation that went into the speech — the biggest moment of her new political career: “I wrote it with as little help as possible.”
In passages that clearly weren’t plagiarized from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech, Melania Trump made some prescient remarks. As she wrapped up her address, she said, “The race will be hard-fought, all the way to November. There will be good times and hard times and unexpected turns — it would not be a Trump contest without excitement and drama.” And with that prediction, the 2016 election continued its inexorable march into the absurd.