First Lady Melania Trump unveiled her new initiative to fight cyberbullying called “Be Best” on Monday and an official booklet promoting this initiative has come under scrutiny for its similarities to an Obama-era booklet.
Melania Trump is no stranger to plagiarism claims. In 2016, she was accused of plagiarizing her RNC speech from a speech Michelle Obama gave in 2008. Meredith McIver, the Trump staffer who wrote Mrs Trump’s speech, later admitted to borrowing from Obama’s 2008 address.
As the BBC points out, the text and graphics of Mrs. Trump’s booklet are nearly identical to those in the booklet published by the Obama administration. The “Be Best” website says the booklet was authored by Melania Trump and the Federal Trade Commmission, but once the media starting picking up on the similarities between the two booklets, the booklet was changed and now reads, “a Federal Trade Commission booklet, promoted by First Lady Melania Trump.”
Check out the similarities in a tweet below.
Stephanie Grisham, White House Director of Communications for Melania Trump, just put out a statement on Tuesday morning, defending the booklet and saying, “After giving a strong speech that was met with a standing ovation and positive feedback, the focus from opposition media has been on an educational booklet, ‘Talking with Kids About Being Online’ produced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2009. Mrs. Trump agreed to add Be Best branding and distribute the booklet in an effort to use her platform to amplify the positive messages within.”
Grisham continued, “Despite providing countless outlets with ample background, information and on-the-record comments from the FTC, some media have chosen to take a day meant to promote kindness and positive efforts on behalf of children, to instead lob baseless accusations towards the First Lady and her new initiatives.”
Melania Trump says that the goal of her new “Be Best” platform was to promote online safety, particularly among children, as well as to promote a healthy lifestyle and lead the fight against the opioid epidemic. Her campaign has also come under fire for its cyberbullying component, which many have argued is hypocritical, given her husband’s frequently vulgar and disparaging language on Twitter. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about this potential hypocrisy and replied, “I think the idea that you’re trying to blame cyberbullying on the president is kind of ridiculous.”