The White House tried to cover up the fact that First Lady Melania Trump took credit for a booklet she lifted from the Obama administration as part of her “Be Best” campaign, according to records from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
When Melania introduced her campaign during a public event on Monday, the White House’s webpage about the initiative directed people to “read ‘Talking with Kids About Being Online,’ a booklet by First Lady Melania Trump and the Federal Trade Commission.”
Here’s a screengrab of the website with that language:
But shortly after the event ended, observers noticed that “Talking with Kids About Being Online” looks almost identical to a booklet released by the Obama administration entitled “Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids about Being Online.” For the second time in less than two years, Melania was exposed for lifting material from the Obamas during a major public appearance.
By Tuesday morning, the White House’s “Be Best” webpage had been quietly changed. No longer was the booklet described as being “by First Lady Melania Trump” — now, it is merely “promoted by First Lady Melania Trump.”
Here’s a screenshot of the website as it appeared Tuesday afternoon:
Later on Tuesday, Melania’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, released a statement addressing the First Lady’s latest plagiarism controversy. But instead of apologizing or even acknowledging that the campaign’s website had been changed, Grisham attacked the media for being interested in the story in the first place.
“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,” it says. “Our office will continue to focus of helping children and I encourage members of the media to attempt to Be Best in their own professions, and focus on some of the children and programs Mrs. Trump highlighted in her remarks yesterday.”
White House releases statement blasting the “opposition media” for focusing on similarities between Melania Trump’s booklet and Obama-era FTC document pic.twitter.com/pWlJiVeJYO
— Brett LoGiurato (@BrettLoGiurato) May 8, 2018
The defiant note was reminiscent of how team Trump responded to Melania’s first plagiarism controversy in 2016, when part of her RNC speech turned out to be lifted nearly word-for-word from one delivered by Michelle Obama.
Instead of apologizing, then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort went on TV and blamed Hillary Clinton.
“This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, she seeks out to demean her and take her down,” Manafort said on CNN.
Manafort also flatly denied that plagiarism occurred.
“She was speaking in front of 35 million people last night, she knew that,” he said. “To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.”