Plagiarism is among our favorite topics of discussion here at TBS Magazine. Before moving on to more legitimate pastures, I spent the Aughts working as an academic ghostwriter. So of course, I get the warm fuzzies every time a major plagiarism case makes headlines. I’m like a reformed mobster spending a leisurely afternoon at the racetrack. I’m never surprised when the fix is in because I used to be a fixer.
So you can imagine how nostalgic I felt watching Melania Trump’s speech on the first night of the Republican National Convention. Borrowing liberally from Michelle Obama’s address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, the aspiring First Lady became the most recent high-profile casualty of failed attribution.
Observers took notice of the marked similarities between the two speeches. Let’s take a quick look at the passages in question, side by side:
Leading plagiarism detection company Turnitin pointed to one 23-word phrase that appeared verbatim in both speeches:
…values that you work hard for what you want in life: that your word is your bond and you do what you say…
Turnitin noted that there is a one in one trillion chance of this occurring by mere coincidence.
But hey, we’re willing to give Melania that one in one trillion benefit of the doubt.
And whatever went down, we’re more than happy to offer our assistance to anybody–in presidential politics or otherwise–who could use some help better understanding the implications of plagiarism. Over the years, we’ve created a number of resources that illuminate the subject, with a particular focus on academic ghostwriting.
These resources offer a window into the world of professional cheating. So if you happen to work in electoral politics, there’s probably something in here you could use. These resources could be the key to better understanding the rules of attribution, or at least to bending them without getting caught.