The Melania Trump plagiarism scandal has been seen over the last several hours as a blow to her husband’s presidential campaign. After all, many of the phrases that the third Mrs. Trump repeats in her speech are taken word for word from a speech previously given by Michelle Obama.
However, those anticipating a massive drop in the polls are likely to be disappointed, and that’s because of the masterful job that the GOP frontrunner has done of manipulating media coverage throughout his long and often controversial career.
In fact, if anything, the Trump plagiarism scandal could end up helping the Republican nominee for the following reasons.
Firstly, modern culture is suffering from severe ADD.
With the rise of social media, there has been a simultaneous cratering of attention spans. Citizens of modern culture live much of their lives online in an endless scroll of status updates, manufactured outrage, and viral kitty pictures.
It has created a phenomenon where people forget about issues 24 to 48 hours after they’ve occurred unless there is a handy hashtag attached, which typically produces only a few more days worth of focus.
Donald Trump knows this better than anyone as evidenced in the way that he has managed to get away with saying and doing things that would crush the typical political candidate.
The Trump plagiarism debacle is a very small misstep in the scandal that has surrounded his campaign, from issuing derogatory remarks on illegal immigrants (calling many rapists and murderers) to dismissing the heroism of Arizona Republican Senator John McCain to contradicting almost all of the positions that won him initial tea party support to commenting on the size of his penis in a primary debate.
The Donald has understood that dominating headlines and constant branding are enough to win the enthusiasm of a continually disengaged society.
Secondly, Trump is a master of controlling narratives.
Dilbert creator Scott Adams, in a recent appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher (hat tip the Washington Post) explained why Trump would win in a landslide.
Honestly. This is horrifying.
*The mind behind ‘Dilbert’ explains why Trump will win. https://t.co/glVSmWbE4h
— Michelle LaRue (@drmichellelarue) July 20, 2016
In addition to his masterful skills at using the power of persuasion, Adams (and Maher, too) argued, he is a master brander of not just his own name but those of his opponents.
Adams attests that Trump’s tendency to use and reuse terms like “Low Energy Jeb,” “Lyin’ Ted,” “Crooked Hillary,” “Crazy Bernie,” and “Little Marco” succeed in marginalizing his opponents, especially in a society that decides more on emotion than facts.
By attaching the qualities to his opponents’ missteps, Trump has been able to instill “confirmation bias” onto low information voters.
Finally, his handling of the Trump plagiarism scandal itself is a master class in damage control.
When the mashup videos hit YouTube in the aftermath of Melania Trump plagiarism accusations, Donald Trump’s team used the above factors to their advantage, but they also made a series of moves to wash their hands of wrongdoing while subsequently admitting the similarities existed.
For starters, a spokesman commented that Melania greatly admired Michelle Obama and that while working with speech writers, she professed that admiration.
Immediately, this tactic creates distance between Melania Trump and plagiarism accusations while simultaneously reaching out to disenfranchised Bernie supporters, who aren’t enamored with Hillary Clinton.
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) July 20, 2016
“Oh, Melania and Donald may disagree, but they actually respect our candidates?” becomes the impression, making Donald Trump seem like a candidate willing to work with the other side.
Next, having Meredith McIver, the speechwriter, fall on the proverbial sword and take responsibility for the Trump plagiarism accusations essentially acknowledged wrongdoing while keeping Melania and Donald’s hands clean of it.
Lastly, the admission authored by McIver — published here by the New York Times — painted Trump as a forgiving man who knows people can make mistakes and oversights. However, he also understands they deserve second chances.
It shows a different side to the Donald Trump who is often seen as brash and cocky onstage. Furthermore, given Melania’s limitations with her second language, it’s a plausible explanation.
As a result, the Trump plagiarism accusations have been acknowledged, affirmed, marginalized, and blamed on someone other than Donald Trump while painting him as a compassionate leader who believes in people.
Couple that with Hillary Clinton’s continuing email problems, and you’ve got a candidate on the fast track to the White House.
But what do you think, readers? Is the Trump plagiarism scandal a big deal, and was it handled expertly by the Donald? Sound off in the comments section below.