Michelle Obama Plagiarized Her 2008 Democratic National Convention Speech-Disputed!
Summary of eRumor:
Michelle Obama plagiarized her 2008 Democratic National Convention speech from Saul Alinsky or Stephen Covey, and then Melania Trump later plagiarized Michelle Obama’s speech.
Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech was definitely influenced by Saul Alinksy and Stephen Covey — but whether or not her speech rose to the level of plagiarism is debatable.
Claims that Michelle Obama had lifted portions of her speech surfaced immediately after she gave it in 2008. Blog sites immediately noted that two direct phrases in the future first lady’s speech appeared to be taken directly from Saul Alinsky’s book, “Rules for Radicals.”
According to a transcript of her speech, Obama said:
…And Barack stood up that day, and he spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about “the world as it is” and “the world as it should be.” And he said that, all too often, we accept the distance between the two and we settle for the world as it is, even when it doesn’t reflect our values and aspirations.
Two lines that appeared in quotations in the transcript — “the world as it is” and “the world as it should be” — appeared in the second chapter of Saul Alinksy’s “Rules for Radicals”:
The standards of judgment must be rooted in the whys and wherefores of life as it is lived, the world as it is, not our wished-for fantasy of the world as it should be.
Although those two phrases appeared in quotations in the transcript of Michelle Obama’s speech, she did not attribute them Alinsky during it. The definition of plagiarism is “the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person.” An argument can be made that Obama used Alinsky’s words and ideas in the speech without giving him credit. That’s why we’re calling that one disputed.
Then, after Melania Trump was accused of copying portions of Michelle Obama’s speech, another plagiarism accusation was waged against Obama. This time, a viral Facebook meme claimed that Obama had lifted a portion of Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”
In question was this line that supposedly appeared in Stephen Covey’s book:
There is only one sure means of success. Number one, work hard for what you want in life. Number two, treat your word as your bond and always do what you say you’re going to do. And number three, respect everyone and treat them with dignity even if you don’t know them or agree with them. And always, always, take the opportunity to pass the values on to the next generation.
Several lines from that passage appear to match the portion of Michelle Obama’s speech that Melania Trump was accused of plagiarizing:
And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: like, you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond; that you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them and even if you don’t agree with them.
However, we couldn’t that quote anywhere in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” and we couldn’t find any examples of Stephen Covey saying that elsewhere, either. It appears the passage did not come from Covey and the meme was created to intentionally mislead people into thinking that Michelle Obama had plagiarized her speech. That’s why we’re calling that claim “fiction.”