By Abraham H. Miller, Originally published in The American Spectator
The media’s obsession with Melania Trump’s so-called “plagiarism” said far less about Melania Trump than about the media. As comparisons between Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech and Melania’s recent address to the Republican National Convention dominated the airwaves, a secret addendum to the Iran deal surfaced. It revealed that Iran will be moving toward constructing a nuclear weapon far sooner than the 15 years the public had been led to believe. But that did not draw the media’s attention.
President Obama released the 28 pages of the 9/11 commission report that had been withheld from the public since its publication in 2004. It raised serious questions about the role of the Saudis in the attack and the involvement of the Saudi government in concealing, funding, and providing intelligence for the terrorists. This too did not draw much airtime.
Seldom has an “alleged” cribbing of phrases drawn so much media attention. Indeed, far more serious acts of alleged plagiarism have drawn far and away less attention. John F. Kennedy’s famous phrase, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” was said to be plagiarized from his headmaster at Choate. Then there was Kennedy’s senior thesis subsequently fashioned into a book,Why England Slept, which was said to be rewritten by New York Times correspondent Arthur Krock, amounting to Krock actually doing the writing.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s plagiarized dissertation was never the stuff of significant media attention. One had to be an aficionado of the Chronicle of Higher Education to even be aware of the issue, which was barely covered in the press. A committee at Boston University found significant portions of the dissertation had been plagiarized, but added that it still made a contribution to scholarship. King’s famous and moving “I Have a Dream” speech resembled the address by black preacher Archibald Carey to the 1952 Republican National Convention. While the speeches are not identical, there are similarities in phraseology.