The Slatest

Melania Trump Cyberbullying Booklet Appears to Be Copied From FTC Document Released During Obama Administration

Two side-by-side booklet cover pages that appear identical except for their titles.
The FTC’s 2014 pamphlet and Melania Trump’s 2018 version. Screen shots/Illustration by Slate

Two years ago, Melania Trump copied several lines in her Republican National Convention speech from an address Michelle Obama delivered in 2008. On Monday, Melania Trump formally announced the launch of an anti-cyberbullying initiative. As part of that initiative, the White House released a booklet that, in the words of Melania’s signed introduction, is intended to “help kids act thoughtfully and kindly” online. And, as BuzzFeed News’ Ryan Mac points out, it appears that the booklet was almost completely copied from a document released by the Federal Trade Commission in 2014.

Above, you can see the two documents’ covers. Here’s another side-by-side:

Side-by-side booklet pages that are identical but for small graphical changes to images of cell phones.
Screen shots/Illustration by Slate

Hey, they changed it a little! But … they didn’t change it that much.

Update, May 8: An FTC spokesman emails to point out that the FTC published a blog post Monday about its involvement in the creation and distribution of the White House booklet, and the White House booklet also includes FTC branding, which means it would be going too far to say it may have been straight-out plagiarized, as some of the labeling on this post initially suggested. On the other hand, the White House’s website initially stated that the booklet had been written “by” Melania Trump and the FTC, the implication being that it was created, with significant input on Trump’s part, for her new campaign. That’s plainly untrue, because the booklet consists almost entirely of content that was originally published four years ago—and after the online uproar, the White House changed the wording of its site to state merely that the booklet is promoted by Trump:

The original text describes "a booklet by Melania Trump and the Federal Trade Commission." The updated text refers to "a Federal Trade Commission booklet promoted by Melania Trump."
Screen shots/Illustration by Slate