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Why the Plagiarism Problem Matters

Jul 19, 2016

If you only read one thing: Of all the ways Republicans feared the Donald Trump convention would have hit a speed bump, a plagiarism charge against the candidate's wife was the last thing on their minds. Sure, they expected a delegate kerfuffle over the party rules as #NeverTrump met its end, but the apparent copying of about 50 words of Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech in support of her husband was an unforced error that threatened to overshadow the otherwise golden moment for the Trump campaign. Conventions are multi-day infomercials scripted down to the second, offering campaigns their only opportunity at complete message control, and the sloppiness of Trump team points to a larger problem with the organization. While Trump initially told reporters she wrote the speech herself, the campaign backtracked swiftly to say she worked with a team of writers over the course of a month. Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort accused the press of engaging in a political witch-hunt, saying he didn't see any plagiarism. "They're not words that are unique words," he told TIME.

Trump's convention had the look and feel of a traditional political convention, but the message was more designed to tap into the conservative id than the general electorate. With a focus on illegal immigration, Benghazi and police shootings, the opening night featured conservative tropes and speakers who have made their buck on the conservative speaking circuit. To a certain extent, it's out of necessity, as Trump is still struggling to unify the GOP.

Hillary Clinton's explanation for why her use of a private email server was wrong. The protest scene in Cleveland. And the most political foods in America.

Here are your must-reads for now. We'll be back with more from Cleveland this evening:

Must Reads

Donald Trump's Raucous Convention Opens Unconventionally
Three television stars. Two Trumps. And one tampon joke. [TIME]

Pro-Trump, Anti-Trump Protesters Agree: The Other Side is Brainwashed
The scene in Cleveland [TIME]

Melania Trump Uses Phrases From Michelle Obama’s 2008 Convention Speech
Plagiarism charges mar well-received speech [TIME]

Convention Floor Erupts After Never Trump Action Fails
The end of Never Trump [TIME]

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Sound Off

"Frankly if I knew somebody did it, I'd fire them too." — Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to TIME Tuesday morning on the Melania Trump speech

"Well, it was wrong because—look at what it has—generated." — Hillary Clinton to Charlie Rose on her private email server

Bits and Bites

Melania Trump Strikes Rare Note of Compassion at Republican Convention [TIME]

How Angry is the Republican Convention Right Now? [TIME]

Meet the Rising Star Who Spoke at the Republican Convention [TIME]

Rep. Steve King Asks What ‘Subgroup’ Contributed More to Civilization Than Whites [TIME]

The Most Political Foods in America [TIME]

Do You Eat Like a Republican or a Democrat? [TIME]

Donald Trump's Campaign Still Holding Grudges as Convention Starts [TIME]

RNC Chairman Says He'd Consider Firing Melania Trump's Speechwriter [Bloomberg]

Pence vs. Clinton on the Iraq War Vote ‘Mistake’ [Washington Post]

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