For reasons known only to him, the big guy thought it was worth reviving this story this morning.
“All press is good press” is a tidy summation of the Trump philosophy and it supports some of the theories kicked around yesterday that the plagiarism was some sort of deliberate, next-level strategic gambit. Alas, the truth is more mundane: Meredith McIver, a Trump Organization employee who helped Melania Trump with the speech, now admits that the simplest and most obvious explanation is the correct one — namely, it was a screw-up.
“In working with Melania on her recent first lady speech, we discussed many people who inspired her and messages she wanted to share with the American people,” Ms. McIver wrote.
“A person she has always liked is Michelle Obama,” she added. “Over the phone,” Ms. Trump “read me some passages from Mrs. Obama’s speech as examples. I wrote them down 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 and I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused Melania and the Trumps as well as to Mrs. Obama. No harm was meant.”
She said that she had “offered my resignation to Mr. Trump and the Trump family but they rejected it,” and that “Mr. Trump told me that people make innocent mistakes and we learn and grow from these experiences.”
Could McIver be a fall guy, tasked with taking the blame for Melania Trump and the campaign’s staffers with the promise that Trump would magnanimously reject her resignation if she tendered it? Probably not. The NYT did some digging last night about the origins of the speech and, after talking to a dozen different sources within Trump’s operation, also arrived at McIver as the likely culprit. Unless the “fall guy” memo went out fast and widely, she’s to blame. Allegedly the first draft of the speech was written by two Republican pros but Mrs. Trump didn’t care for it; that’s when McIver was enlisted to help personalize the speech.
This time Team Trump’s indifference to professional political cost them as apparently the new draft was never analyzed with software designed to check for passages that duplicate publicly available material, a routine step among pros. According to one company that specializes in that sort of analysis, the odds statistically of duplicating a 16-word passage word for word purely by chance are one in … a trillion, with the odds rising with each extra duplicated word. One of the passages in Melania Trump’s speech duplicated a 23-word passage from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech. Of course it was plagiarism, and very obviously so. And yet, here’s a short but probably not exhaustive list of the various spins tested in the last 24 hours:
1. She wrote it. 2. She didn't. 3. It wasn't plagiarism. 4. Hillary's fault. 5. My Little Pony. 6. It was plagiarism, but it was an accident
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) July 20, 2016
A greater than one-in-a-trillion chance of pure coincidence, and yet the chief spokesman for the RNC was mumbling about “My Little Pony” yesterday like some sort of mental defective. Good lord. The truth would have set everyone free yesterday morning, which is when McIver’s statement should have been released.
Exit question: Is the real scandal here the fact that Melania Trump apparently likes Michelle Obama? That’s basically disqualifying among grassroots conservatives.