Trump campaign admits plagiarism. Ex-ballet dancer ghost writer helped Melania in major redraft of speech for RNC opening night

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By Peter Lance July 20th, 2016. Of all the comparisons of Melania Trump’s clear lifts from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention address, this one from YouTube is the most striking.

As a reporter I’m in the fact business, but yesterday I weighed in with a theory on how this catastrophic blunder happened on Night One of the RNC and, as it turned out, I got it mostly right.

HERE’S THE BACKGROUND

After Mrs. Trump told Matt Lauer  Monday morning that she “wrote (the speech) with as little help as possible” my gut, as a reporter, told me that her ham-handed plagiarism was the result of Mrs. Trump’s desire to claim ownership of the first night address.

What if, I speculated, the stunning Slovenian immigrant and ex-model who remained in the background for much of the campaign, had decided she wanted to write the convention first-nighter herself and that her husband, known for delegating business decisions to his children, decided to let her run with it? 

Since English was not her first language, she then proceeded to search the web for speeches by other prospective first ladies and came upon Michelle’s stirring words from eight years ago. She then mined the parts of it that resonated for her — not realizing the significance of plagiarising the wife of The Donald’s principal bête noire after Hillary Clinton.

If this stunning mistake, at the open of Trump’s coronation in Cleveland had been her work and her work alone, it might explain why the GOP nominee who gold-plated the phrase “You’re fired!” didn’t move immediately to punish the perpetrator.

How could he, after walking on stage to introduce Melania backlit with smoke to Queen’s “We Are The Champions,” another ripoff, the iconic band now says was “unauthorized.”

My theory was bolstered yesterday by a  NY Times’ report that the first draft was written by veteran speech writers Matthew Scully and John McConnell who submitted it in June, only to be told 10 days ago that the speech would have to be shortened. Mrs. Trump, then reportedly worked with an unknown person in the Trump organization to make what the NYT called “substantial revisions.” 

Today The Times revealed the name of that unnamed insider: Meredith McIver, described as “a New York City-based former ballet dancer and English major who has worked on some of Mr. Trump’s books, including ‘Think Like a Billionaire.'”

The subtitle on that book is “Everything You Need to Know About Success, Real Estate and Life.” A dictum that co-author Ms. McIver seemed to ignore.

Today, after initially blaming the theft of the current First Lady’s words on “Hillary Clinton” and “the Media,” the Trumpers have now copped to what former McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt called “a plagiarized speech hands down” and a “catastrophe” for the convention’s first night.

Ms McGiver told The WSJ that “after Mrs. Trump read aloud passages of Mrs. Obama’s speech as an example of “people who inspired her and messages she wanted to share with the American people” Ms McGiver wrote the passages down in her notebook and “later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech.”

The final mystery is, why, no one else in the Trump organization fact checked the final draft or ran it through a program like Duplichecker? 


WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT DONALD TRUMP’S COMPETENCE 

Uncharacteristically, Trump himself says she’ll keep her job. But this mini-scandal, like so many that have plagued Trump’s campaign, from the Trump University lawsuit, to the truth behind his multiple bankruptcies and failures in Atlantic City, to his continued unwillingness to release his tax returns, undercuts his core promise: that his business acumen will result in a turnaround for the U.S. economy — still recovering from the meltdown under Bush 43.

The fact that the Trump campaign would exercise so little oversight over a speech that was meant to help reinforce the nominee’s principals and ethics says everything about his own duty of care or fitness to be the next POTUS.

But why should we be surprised? After all, Donald Trump’s principal persona as “CEO-in-chief” during 14 seasons of “The Apprentice” was crafted by none other than Mark Burnett, the UK immigrant, ex-nanny and chauffeur who became a media zillionaire after bringing Survivor, the mother of all, elimination game shows to CBS in 2000.

One can only wonder if the thousands of naive “get-rich-quick” hopefuls who shelled out their hard earned funds for “Think Like A Billionaire” will be storming the lobby at Trump Tower to demand a refund.

 

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