Press "Enter" to skip to content

SD Delegate Randall Denies that Melania Trump Plagiarized

Aberdeen’s Dana Randall, delegate to the thankfully concluded Republican National Convention, must have been infected with Donald Trump’s inability to admit when he’s wrong. He tells Victoria Lusk that Melania Trump did not plagiarize her convention speech:

Randall also doesn’t think the “50 or so words” in Melania Trump’s speech that have garnered intense attention amount to plagiarism.

“You can only say so many things about your parents. You were either raised good or bad,” Randall said.

Additionally, he said, “You say certain things, write certain ways. It’s always going to be your style” [Victoria Lusk, “Aberdeen GOP Delegate Doesn’t See Convention as out of the Ordinary,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.07.21].

I don’t want to keep beating this horse—Mrs. Trump’s plagiarism isn’t nearly as politically important as Mr. Trump’s fascism—but when a leading light in my community refuses to recognize a clear case of plagiarism, I, out of loyalty to all teachers who must confront plagiarism in the classroom and teach our kids to use words and sources properly, must say, “No, Dana, really, it was plagiarism.”

Melania Trump didn’t just say how she was raised by her parents. She used words lifted directly from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech about how she was raised by her parents. She didn’t say the passages in question in her style: she said them in Michelle Obama’s style and order.

Trump speechwriter Meredith McIver admitted that Mrs. Trump’s speech included plagiarized passages. Even the team for which Randall is excusfying admits that there is no excuse, that the action was plagiarism, and that the action was wrong.

The next time I teach English, I will use Melania Trump’s speech as a clear, instructive example of plagiarism. Mr. Randall, please stop getting in my way or the way of any other teachers who will use this moment to make our students better at using sources responsibly. You can run political interference for your atrocious nominee on all sorts of other issues; surrender this one issue (a losing issue), admit the unpleasant fact that your candidate’s wife made an error, and let teachers teach that error.


  1. Steve Hickey 2016-07-22

    Using other people’s material is what lazy pastors to every week.

    Back in my seminary days in Chicago I took a class on African American Preaching. Loved it. One of our texts was this book: Voice of Deliverance: The Language of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Its Sources. From the book jacket: “…argues that King’s language and imagery comprised a skilful blending of the oral tradition of the Afro-American folk church and the style of the printed sermons of white, liberal preachers.”

    I remember being shocked at how much wasn’t original to him, including I HAVE A DREAM: “the source King raided for this was a speech given to the Republican National convention of 1952, by a black preacher named Archibald Carey.”

    In my field we call this Source Criticism.

    The Dirty Jobs guy, Mike Rowe, had some interesting comments on his Facebook page which made the news. I’ll cut and paste his words here :


    I don’t know about common sense, but here’s my analysis of the situation. (I hope to God someone hasn’t already written this.) Regarding the charges of plagiarism, I really don’t know. All I know for sure is that Mrs. Trump is absolutely, positively guilty of standing before the country and reading words she didn’t write as if they were own. I also know that Mrs. Obama is guilty of doing the same thing. Both women – along with their husbands – have stood proudly before a national audience and pretended the words they read originated with them – knowing full well they did not. Let’s consider for a moment, the weird reality of speechwriters in our political discourse. Why do we tolerate them? Why do we permit our leaders to pretend that someone else’s words are theirs? Moreover, why do we allow them to stand before us and act as if they’re NOT reading from a script, when we know damn well they are? Why – in this – “age of authenticity” – do we accept the artifice of a Teleprompter, and all the other pretenses of earnestness that enable candidates to present themselves as something other than who they really are? I always thought the obvious answer was because we’re a lazy and shallow species who value style over substance. But now, it seems I was mistaken. Today, half the country has risen up in righteous indignation because the words of an anonymous speechwriter – words once read by Mrs. Obama as if they were her own – have been co-opted by another anonymous speechwriter, and given to another aspiring First Lady – who also read those same words as if they belonged to her! Did either one of them believe what they read? Beats me. Does anyone even care about such a thing? Who knows? No one is talking about what was said. Only about how they said it. What we know for sure – is that neither one of them wrote the words they spoke. The real question is, do we truly care? Personally, I do. But not as much as I care about the underlying Kabuki that now informs the whole election process.


    And what better than a meme to top off how many of us feel about this cast-the-first-stone-political-plagiarism faux-outrage and foolishness…

  2. Rorschach 2016-07-22

    After losing the election Donald Trump will trade in Melania for a younger model.

  3. Darin Larson 2016-07-22

    Well, Trump did say that if Ivanka wasn’t his daughter he would date her. She’s 34 and he’s 70.

  4. Steve Hickey 2016-07-22

    You inspired me put up a post on this…

    King’s I HAVE A DREAM speech lifted from 1952 Republican National Convention.

    “I remember being shocked at how much wasn’t original to him, including I HAVE A DREAM: “the source King raided for this was a speech given to the Republican National convention of 1952, by a black preacher named Archibald Carey.” In my field we call this Source Criticism. Did you know Matthew and Luke drew heavily from Mark? And Mark drew heavily from a Source we only know today as Q. And while I’m at it should I mention the Golden Rule in my beloved Sermon on the Mount wasn’t original to Jesus?

  5. Don Coyote 2016-07-22

    Turns out that Melania’s speechwriter, Meredith McIver, who was responsible for lifting the lines from Sarah Hurwitz’s speech written for Michelle Obama, is a registered Democrat. Must be in a Democrat’s DNA. It even appears Meredith is using FBI Director James Comey’s “Hillary Excuse” that “no harm was meant”.

  6. mike from iowa 2016-07-22

    Geez,Hickey. That is all well and good, but did you know Melania Drumpf plagiarized Michelle Obama’s speech and the entire wingnut universe has denied it, lied about it and grudgingly admitted everyone else does it too?

    I haven’t heard an apology from the master liar obfuscator who will only get worse if he gets elected Potus.

  7. Don Coyote 2016-07-22

    @fogged in in Iowa: Here’s the apology from the speechwriter Meredith McIlver: “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.”

    Good enough for the Democrat she is.

  8. Daniel Buresh 2016-07-22

    Geez,Mike. That is all well and good, but did you know that Hilary mishandled classified documents as the Secretary of State and the entire left-wing douche universe has denied it, lied about it and grudgingly admitted everyone else does it too?

    I haven’t heard an apology from the master liar obfuscator who will only get worse if she gets elected Potus.

  9. mike from iowa 2016-07-22

    Geez Gomers, did you know wingnuts have mishandled every single illegitimate and wasteful investigation for over thirty years and have not not come up with a single indictable crime?
    Did you know Starr and his Keystone Wingnut Inquisitors passed out secret information to right wing outlets-illegally and against the law? There were crimes committed and wingnuts committed them.

  10. mike from iowa 2016-07-22

    Coyote with ? for brains- McIver works for Drumpf Corp., not the campaign. It is illegal for her to write speeches for the campaign. Had HRC done this there would be screams of treason and more talk of impeaching HRC before she wins the election.

  11. Roger Cornelius 2016-07-22

    Steve Hickey just lost all his credibility by citing Sean Hannity as a credible source.
    As Sibson would say, “sad, sad, sad”.

  12. Don Coyote 2016-07-22

    @IowegianMike: Under US election laws, Meredith McIlver writing speeches for the Trump campaign would only be illegal if she was not paid for her work with campaign funds. Now until a fact like that comes to light, your University of Phoenix™ Paralegal Certification isn’t worth the newsprint it is printed on.

  13. mike from iowa 2016-07-22

    DB-you’re singing a different tune ,Rev. Mishandled? Last week it was sending classified info by unsecured email and wingnuts were ready to hang her.

  14. Greg 2016-07-22

    Coyote, are you saying that mike from Iowa’s Paralegal Certificate is A–WIPE? You are the man Coyote.

  15. mike from iowa 2016-07-22

    No Mangy Coyote- Drumpf will then deny he knows McIver and swear he has never met her and then you and your pack of sniveling Gregs and Bureshes will howl with delight because Drumpf stuck it to da man again.

  16. David Newquist 2016-07-22

    The lifted words in Melania’s speech were verbatim transcriptions from the speech delivered by Michelle Obama. While McIver claims that these words were transmitted to her over the phone by Melania, it is very unlikely that the precise diction and syntax could be duplicated without directly consulting the source. The devastating ironies are that the quotations used deal with the integrity of one’s word and that Melania was inspired by the words of someone reviled by the audience to whom she presented those words. Had she made an oral attribution to Michelle Obama, one can only wonder if she would have been booed off the lectern in the way of Ted Cruz. Considering Donald Trump’s constant litany of insult and abuse and that little he says holds up under fact checking, one can sympathize with Melania if she found solace and integrity in someone else’s words.

    The offense of plagiarism in the academic setting is that one is representing someone else’s ideas and words as one’s own. To do so is counterfeiting. That counterfeiting has it effects in other settings, too, because it subverts the authenticity and trustworthiness of the language, which is the currency of human transactions. People are being played for fools when someone poses someone else’s precise thoughts and words as their own. There is no greater insult than to be played for a fool.

    The dismissal of plagiarism as an inconsequential act is an indication of dissolution in our culture.

    The oral tradition in black churches of taking up themes from other preachers and elaborating and improvising from them was also a part of the music that grew from work chants to the sorrow songs (spirituals) that held out the promise of liberation from slavery. It is the transmission of a vital message to people who needed it to endure. In some ways, it seems that was what Melania intended to do, but the context of that convention with its hate sessions (“Lock her up.”) and its repetitions of false fact made seem like we were being fooled, not informed.

  17. Roger Cornelius 2016-07-22

    Lost in the throes of Melania’s plagiarism scandal of the past week is the blatant disrespect show our sitting First Lady.
    Melania didn’t just steal words from Michelle Obama, she stole the words of a First Lady and the sea of white faces at the Republican convention cheered her for it.

  18. Richard Schriever 2016-07-22

    Huh? How about the Bush/Cheney admins. use of government property (Whitehouse Servers) for political purposes (campaign e-mails) and the dumping of 3 million of them – so they couldn’t be investigated? God knows what ELSE they used government property for.

  19. Don Coyote 2016-07-22

    @cah: “The next time I teach English, I will use Melania Trump’s speech as a clear, instructive example of plagiarism.”

    If one of your students purchased a term paper online wouldn’t that be plagiarism? So shouldn’t you also use Michelle Obama’s speech as example since plagiarism is nothing more than claiming credit for work that is not your own. Michelle didn’t write her speech just as her husband didn’t write “Dreams From my Father” and JFK didn’t write “Profiles in Courage”.

  20. Darin Larson 2016-07-22

    Coyote and others, if this is no big deal, then why do you keep denying that plagiarism happened?

  21. Moses11 2016-07-22

    Dan we already know Hilary.What scares me is Trump thats why I will vote for the woman.

  22. Moses11 2016-07-22

    .By the way heard Huether speak today in Sioux Falls reminds me of Trump.

  23. Douglas Wiken 2016-07-22

    This is still much ado about nothing. Hyping this just gives Trump more publicity and convinces those not greatly interested in politics that it is all a farce and political theater.

    There are real issue democrats and progressives can develop. They and Democrats and Progressives and Hillary, Inc. need to get working on. They need to come after these issues from the perspective of the underlying values of those on the other sides. That is difficult, but it can be done.

    There are few good ideas that don’t get used and re-used. And, as I wrote before, “It is too damn hot.” and those are words from a song even if they apply perfectly. The day started off with pea-soup fog and turned into a steam bath.

  24. leslie 2016-07-22

    given what trump is trotting out there for consumption, now, and how Bush v. Gore gutted the Fla. Sup Ct. and gave Bush an election he lost, I got a baaad feelin about what else is coming down the pike from the GOP this election year. btw, trump is the GOP now.

    and Daniel, “the entire left-wing douche universe has denied it, lied about it and grudgingly admitted everyone else does it too?” is not only not only stupid and inaccurate, it also further dilutes credibility in all your pro-gun gibberish too.

    if u r right, Trey Gowdy could have made something of himself, too. The entire world now has documented proof of what the original replacement intended for Speaker Boehner, Rep McCarthy bumbled out as an admission to “GET HILLARY”. Bengahzi, emails, gerrymandering, voter suppression. its all GOP bunk. its the only way your universe can win and hand more world resources to 400 or more wealthy families. and you get all excited about reasonable gun control in this era of mass shootings, cop shootings, and cop “murders”. the real concern is these 400 or so families have hot blooded patriots like you lathered up to protect them with your fight for gun rights, you concealed and open carry patriots fight their wars, and protect their highly educated children so they too can live in gated communities, fly about to Jackson hole and be inspired by the cheneys, to and buy trump the presidency, just like cheney bought his presidency, allowing bush to sit in the front seat. yuk. what kind of integrity does GOP have? none.

    My only regret is that Thune didn’t somehow take Gowdy’s job instead. Douches? is that anyway to talk in a civil blog?

    you don’t like Hillary, I don’t like Trump. Which of us will prevail?

  25. Sam@ 2016-07-23

    Out this morning Ms. Obama copied Ms. Dole’s speech from 1996. shows how weak Crooked Hillary is.

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-24

    Like a lot of students I’ve caught breaking the rules, Trumpologists spend a lot of time trying to point out other people who’ve been naughty. None of that finger-pointing changes the facts that Dana Randall is wrong and that Melania Trump committed public plagiarism.

  27. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-24

    Newquist intelligently explains the danger in Randall’s denialism. He also blisters the bottoms of Republicans trying to distract us with specious accusations that Michelle Obama plagiarized Saul Alinsky in her 2008 convention speech:

    Please, Republicans, listen to scholars like Newquist so you can learn what plagiarism really is, stop embarrassing yourselves, and start supporting teachers.

  28. mike from iowa 2016-07-24

    I read Newquist’s article earlier today. Very good read.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.