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Marine Le Pen plagiarism scandal: French presidential hopeful can take a lesson or two from Melania Trump

In 2017, with the internet and its simple plagiarism tools available to everyone, one would think that speech writers would be a tad more careful about plagiarising content. Even college students delete Wikipedia references from their poorly written essays. But in American and French politics, we wonder who's being hired to write speeches?

Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate in the running for the French presidency, and Melania Trump, now First Lady of the United States, have both indulged in a little bit of copy-pasting.

On Monday, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen copied comments made two weeks earlier by Francois Fillon, a former frontrunner who was eliminated in the first round of the election, AFP has found.

On 15 April, Fillon made a speech in Puy-en-Velay, in which he made specific mention of the geography of France's borders, paid tribute to the French language and spoke of a third "French way" for the 21st century. At her rally in Villepinte on Monday, Le Pen repeated almost verbatim these passages from Fillon's speech.

Fillon had also quoted from French prime minister during World War I, Georges Clemenceau, and from writer Andre Malraux. Le Pen used the same quotes on Sunday, ahead of the second run-off.

File image of Marine Le Pen. AFP

File image of Marine Le Pen. AFP

The New York Times explained the extent of plagiarism by Le Pen:

On maritime borders

Fillon: This near perfect hexagon, a wonder of balance, three maritime coastlines: the English Channel and the North Sea, open on the Anglo-Saxon world and on the northern vastness; the Atlantic coastline, which for centuries has given us the open seas, and which hands us its adventures; the Mediterranean coastline, home to some of history’s oldest and richest human civilisations.

Le Pen: ...the English Channel and the North Sea, which links us to the Anglo-Saxon world and the northern vastness; the Atlantic coastline, which gives us the open seas and speaks to us of adventure; the Mediterranean coastline, home to some of history’s oldest and richest human civilisations.

France's culture 

Fillon: (France) is a history, is a geography, but it is also a set of values and principles passed down from generation to generation, like passwords.

Le Pen: France is also a set of values and principles passed down from generation to generation, like passwords.

However, Le Pen, did say that it was a "media trick" — that plagiarised passages of one of her speeches were deliberately used to gather media attention ahead of voting this weekend. "If we hadn't have done it, you wouldn't have spoken about it," Le Pen told her interviewer ahead of a head-to-head debate with Macron on Wednesday night. "We know you so well, we know how it works."

File image of Melania Trump. AFP

File image of Melania Trump. AFP

While Le Pen at least tried to spin the plagiarism allegations to her advantage, Melania Trump's team first put out a statement that skirted around the time she herself was accused of plagiarism.

Ahead of the 2016 US presidential election, Melania Trump caused a scandal with a plagiarised speech, that was strikingly similar to the one given by Michelle Obama (former First Lady of the United States) in 2008 for then US President Barack Obama. Melania's speech copied two paragraphs from Michelle's, aspects which pertained to Michelle's life personally.

On life values

Michelle: "And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and to pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

Melania: "They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily lives. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them."

"In writing her beautiful speech, Melania's team of writers took notes on her life's inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking. Melania's immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success," said Jason Miller, the senior communications advisor.

However, Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager, defended Melania and said the words used were not "unique words". Another spokesperson for the Donald Trump campaign said that "This concept that Michelle Obama invented the English language is absurd."

Finally, Trump said in an ABC interview that "we all make mistakes".

Perhaps, Le Pen should look at the Melania plagiarism scandal and realise that it's better to admit to a mistake than deny it over and over again. Denial only makes Twitter users angry and denial only makes liars out of everyone.

And speechwriters, if you're reading this — don't you get paid a lot of money to do this? You have one job, don't plagiarise!

With inputs from AFP


Published Date: May 03, 2017 13:15 PM | Updated Date: May 03, 2017 13:15 PM

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