I am not a fan of Donald Trump and know nothing about his wife, Melania, except that she gave an impressive speech at the Republican National Convention. The next morning, I was saddened to learn she had become embroiled in a plagiarism controversy for allegedly lifting some lines from Michelle Obama’s speech to the Democratic convention eight years earlier.
But that’s the way it is with communication. It can be a treacherous discipline, especially when you’re in the high stakes throes of a presidential campaign. I was, thereby, particularly taken with the explanation that was provided by Meredith McIver, a Trump staff writer, for the lines in Melania’s speech. (Ms. McIver, incidentally, was once a ballet dancer under George Balanchine.)
Indeed the lines were from Michelle Obama’s convention speech in 2008. But they weren’t lifted from it in a predatory manner. Quite the contrary. When Melania Trump was working with Ms. McIver on her own speech, she read some of the lines she admired in Ms. Obama’s speech over the phone to Ms. McIver as examples of the sentiments she wanted to convey in her own message
“I wrote them down,” Ms. McIver explained when the plagiarism furor erupted, “and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech. I did not check Mrs. Obama’s speeches. This was my mistake…”
Truly, it was, and an oversight that’s now been compounded in the current presidential season. Ms. McIver, who has co-authored several books with Donald Trump, offered to resign but Trump rejected that option, telling Ms. McIver that “people make innocent mistakes and that we learn and grow from these experiences.”
Wow! A primetime political embarrassment provided evidence that Donald Trump can be gracious and fair, and isn’t entirely the boor he so often appears to be. We can be thankful for such a revelation – on with the campaign in a somewhat cheerier context!