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Guest written by Chris Scully, Senior Media Intelligence Analyst, LexisNexis
Day 1 of the RNC ended and Day 2 began and was dominated by attention on Melania Trump’s 15-minute address. And, following Sunday night’s disastrous 60 Minutes interview of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the RNC inauspicious start continued.
Shortly after midnight ET Tuesday morning (Monday night on the west coast), Twitter exploded and the cable news networks caught wind of a tweet from an eagle-eared (to coin a phrase) observer, pointing out the significant similarities of several portions of Melania Trump’s speech to Michelle Obama’s speech delivered during the 2008 DNC. From that point on, based on LexisNexis’s human analysis of top-tier media attention sourced from Newsdesk in reaction to the speech, coverage of Ms. Trump’s address shifted from being highly positive on average to being largely negative.
Prior to the allegation becoming publicized, the media offered warm praise for the address. The Washington Post said, it was “a highlight of an otherwise uneven evening.” Bloomberg touted her address for “delivering a message of unity on a day marked by dissent and disruption.” NBCNews.com noted that “she added a softer (and arguably much needed) tone to the Trump brand.” As a result, all stories analyzed that appeared or were written prior to the revelation of plagiarism were favorable toward Ms. Trump’s speech, with 63 percent of such attention being highly positive.
However, once the plagiarism matter went viral, the tone of reporting shifted considerably. Such attention on Ms. Trump’s speech saw 58 percent of stories being negative. News reports often compared the text of the two speeches side-by-side while opinion and analysis pieces ridiculed the campaign for such a high-profile mistake. For example, The Washington Post’s The Daily 202 called the speech “amateur hour,” while MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell labeled the speech “pure plagiarism.”
The only reporting following the allegation that was positive presented the Trump campaign’s defense. A Business Insider report featured numerous comments from Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort blaming the Clinton campaign while a Los Angeles Times article quoted Manafort repeatedly explaining how the themes and words of Ms. Trump’s speech were “common” ones.
At the end of the day—or in this case into the next—media trends can shift quickly and uncover new trends. What stories will rise and shift throughout the rest of the RNC? We’ll be monitoring. For more information and live updates from the Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention, follow LexisNexis on Twitter® at @LexisNexisBiz. And don’t forget to check out the U.S. Presidential Election Tracker to see analysis of the people, places and topics that are trending in the media—from now until November!
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