Will the words of a My Little Pony character absolve Melania Trump and her husband’s campaign of plagiarism?
Melania Trump’s speech is still the talk of night one of the Republican National Convention, but the headlines it is making are giving the Donald Trump campaign a major headache. Melania has been accused of lifting segments of her featured RNC speech from Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and the Trump campaign and members of the Republican party are struggling to explain how Melania ended up speaking the First Lady’s words in front of a massive audience of GOP members. RNC chief strategist and communications director Sean Spicer jumped to Melania Trump’s defense today, and he did so in an unusual way. As the Huffington Post reports, Spicer quoted My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic character Twilight Sparkle.
— Jezebel (@Jezebel) July 19, 2016
During an interview with MSNBC, Spicer attempted to prove that the words that Melania Trump or her speechwriter has been accused of plagiarizing are similar to phrases that have been spoken by various celebrities and fictional characters. In other words, he was arguing that whoever wrote Melania’s RNC speech was just using common expressions that are coincidentally similar to those found in Michelle Obama’s 2008 DNC speech. He proceeded to quote musicians Akon and John Legend, who responded by tweeting that he “would very much like to be excluded from this narrative.”
“Melania Trump said, ‘You work hard for what you want in life.’ Akon said, ‘Work hard for what you get in life.’ John Legend said, ‘Work hard,'” Spicer said.
The RNC strategist did not quote Rihanna and Drake’s “Work,” so it’s his Twilight Sparkle quote that got the most attention. My Little Pony even became a trending topic on Twitter.
“Melania Trump said, ‘The strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.’ Twilight Sparkle from ‘My Little Pony’ said, ‘This is your dream, anything you can do in your dreams.'”
An RNC protester holding a sign that read “Make Memes Great Again” stood in the background while Sean Spicer made his case to incredulous MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin.
WATCH: RNC spokesman cites ‘My Little Pony’, John Legend, Akon in argument over Melania Trump’s speech. https://t.co/pb7SXt0Aow
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) July 19, 2016
Twitter quickly dubbed Sean Spicer a “brony,” or an adult male fan of the animated series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Melania and her husband were also accused of loving the colorful cartoon ponies that inhabit the magical land of Equestria.
— Maureen Gochenauer (@MCGocher) July 19, 2016
— Wonkette (@Wonkette) July 19, 2016
— MPR (@Rozbitsky) July 19, 2016
— P Kats (@pixelkitties) July 19, 2016
However, Spicer proved that he was not a true My Little Pony aficionado when he later referred to Twilight Sparkle as “Sparkle Pony,” so perhaps Donald Trump doesn’t have the brony vote wrapped up just yet.
As the Huffington Post points out, none of the example quotes Sean Spicer used were as similar to the controversial portions of Melania Trump’s speech as Michelle Obama’s words were. CNN shared a video comparison of the women’s speeches, and portions of Melania’s speech are exact matches of segments of Michelle’s speech.
Sean Spicer told MSNBC that he used Google to search for quotes similar to those Melania Trump has been accused of plagiarizing, but the Washingtonian went a step further by running two controversial excerpts from Melania’s RNC speech through a plagiarism checker at Small SEO Tools. The website found that the first excerpt was only 46 percent non-unique and the second excerpt was just 44 percent non-unique. This is “a level of similarity far beyond the usual coincidences that may occur in writing.”
At one point in her speech, Melania Trump says 23 consecutive words that are exactly the same as a passage in Michelle Obama’s speech: “values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say.” The plagiarism-checking website Turnitin says that there is a “less than 1 in a trillion” chance that a 16-word match is coincidental, so Twilight Sparkle’s My Little Pony quote probably won’t get Melania and the Trump campaign out of the mess that they’re in.
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]