- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Although media outlets have fixated on accusations of plagiarism directed at Melania Trump, they showed far less interest in a similar story eight years ago, when Barack Obama faced similar accusations as a presidential candidate.

The major broadcast networks have devoted nearly 60 minutes of coverage to Mrs. Trump’s speech Monday at the Republican National Convention, according to a report by the Media Research Center. The speech contained a paragraph that closely mirrored one in Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

That’s more than four times the coverage the media devoted to similar allegations directed at Mr. Obama in 2008, when he was accused of plagiarizing two lines from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick at several campaign stops.

Although that plagiarism story concerned a candidate for president — instead of a candidate’s spouse — ABC, CBS and NBC only devoted 14 minutes of airtime to the story, the MRC report found.

CBS had the largest discrepancy between the two incidents, dedicating 26 minutes of coverage to Mrs. Trump’s alleged plagiarism scandal, but only 3 minutes to Mr. Obama’s.

The broadcast networks have also found creative ways to cover Mrs. Trump’s scandal, the report said, such as by referencing trending hashtags mocking her speech and running her speech through plagiarism-spotting algorithms.

Meanwhile, NBC’s “Today” aired a long interview with Mr. Obama on Feb. 19, 2008, at the height of the plagiarism controversy, but co-host Matt Lauer never asked Mr. Obama about the incident.

And ABC’s “Good Morning America” held an interview with Mr. Patrick, who defended Mr. Obama, his longtime friend, against the accusations.

“The question about Melania Trump’s speech are legitimate and deserve coverage, but the networks have blown this all out of proportion,” the MRC report concludes. “If suspected plagiarism by an actual presidential candidate deserves only 14 minutes of coverage, then how does the same alleged offense by a candidate’s wife merit four times as much journalistic scrutiny?”

Asked about comparisons between the incidents, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the president did not plagiarize, but was “inspired” by, Mr. Patrick’s speech.

“The president acknowledged that they had discussed that language and that the president had in fact been inspired by Governor Patrick to incorporate some of that language into his stump speech and some of the arguments he was making,” Mr. Earnest said. “But, again, I guess the point is when asked, the president felt that it was important to give credit to his friend Duval Patrick who had been a source of inspiration.”

Meredith McIver, a speechwriter for the Trump organization, took blame for the incident Wednesday. “I apologize for the confusion and hysteria my mistake has caused,” she said.

The campaign refused to accept Ms. McIver’s resignation, calling it an “innocent mistake.”

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