Donald Trump Jr.'s Speechwriter Reused Words from His Own Previously Published Article Which He 'Borrowed'

Election '16

The 2016 Republican National Convention will be remembered at least in part for Melania Trump’s semi-stolen speech. Which is quite something when you consider this is the same event where white supremacy was confirmed to be alive and well within the Republican ranks. Nonetheless, above all else Melania's blatant dishonest act seems to be the thing that’s stuck.

Now it turns out Melania’s not the only Trump to have given a semi-plagiarized speech. A passage from Donald Trump Jr.’s speech has also been directly lifted, in this instance from a May article penned by law professor F.H. Buckley for the American Conservative.

Here’s the almost word-for-word copied section on education reform, first picked up the Daily Show’s Twitter account.

In Melania’s case there’s been a plethora of Republican excuses for her plagiarism ranging from the entertaining:

To the absurd:

But in Trump Jr.’s case we’ve received a far more concrete answer.

"I was a principal speechwriter for the speech," Buckley, the article’s original author, told Vox. "So it's not an issue."

But Professor Buckley, is it really not an issue?

Trump Jr. defended Melania prior to his own speech by faulting her speechwriters. “Those people shouldn’t have done it,” he told CBS, “or they should have cleaned it up better, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about.”

So by this assessment it’s okay to use stolen words as long as they’re your own (or your speechwriter's). Fair enough. But as an academic, Buckley certainly knows better. By definition, reusing your own words without crediting the original source is still plagiarism.

But wait, he might not even have reused words that were his to begin with. 

Such a silly kerfufle about the speech. Ironically, the lines I used I didn't invent. I borrowed them from someone else. I forget whom.

This is all of course assuming people actually care about such an issue. Unfortunately, as the 2016 Republican National Convention has reconfirmed, we are truly living in a post-truth era.

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