Thursday, August 16, 2018
Politics

The laid-off journalist that was first to call Melania Trump's speech plagiarism used to be a Tampa Bay reporter

Jarrett Hill was sitting in a Los Angeles Starbucks scrolling through Twitter and answering Facebook messages while listening to Melania Trump's speech at the Republican National Convention on Monday night.

Something made him stop. It was the phrase "strength of your dreams."

"It kind of made me pause for a minute," Hill told The New York Times. "I remembered that line from Michelle Obama's speech."

Soon the 31-year-old was taking his thoughts to Twitter. He was the first to call Melania Trump's words plagiarism. His main tweet showing the similarities between her speech and Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic convention in 2008 has been shared more than 23,000 times.

Not bad for a guy chilling at a coffee shop.

Except, Hill is actually a trained journalist who not long ago was laid off from a broadcast job. According to his LinkedIn profile, his last on-air job was with Tampa station WFTS, on The Now Tampa Bay for nine months between 2014-15.

Now, he lives in L.A. He calls himself a host, journalist and interior designer within his Twitter bio — but many in the industry seem to be hoping that changes. Hill, who spent Tuesday in and out of TV interviews, received several tweets saying he should get a broadcast job offer after this.

Hill could not immediately be reached by the Tampa Bay Times for comment.

Despite the hundreds of paid journalists at the convention in Cleveland, it was Hill who noticed the stark parallels. Hill brought up the clip of Michelle Obama's speech online and realized that it wasn't just a line that was similar, but a large portion of the speech that appeared to be the same.

"I thought, 'That's legit plagiarism,'" Hill said to The New York Times. "Someone took this piece and plugged in their own information.'"

Melania Trump told NBC News earlier Monday she wrote the speech herself and focused on her upbringing in Slovenia. The Trump campaign said several times Tuesday the speech was not plagiarism and gave explanations for the overlaps.

"These are values, Republican values by the way, of hard work, determination, family values, dedication and respect, and that's Melania Trump," campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson told The Hill on video. "This concept that Michelle Obama invented the English language is absurd."

To journalist Hill, there's no debate on whether the speech qualified as plagiarism. And he seems to be enjoying the attention that comes after breaking a big story. (What reporter wouldn't?)

At least he can count on his mom to keep him in check. On Twitter Tuesday, he said his mom told him, "I'm proud of your active listening (when you want to listen)."

If you want to compare the speech for yourself, the key passages are below:

Michelle Obama, in her 2008 speech:

"Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and 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. And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and 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 Trump, Monday night:

"From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect. 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."

Michelle Obama, in 2008:

"And I come here as a daughter — raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue-collar city worker and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother's love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.

Melania Trump, on Monday night:

"I was born in Slovenia, a small, beautiful and then-Communist country in Central Europe. My sister, Ines, who is an incredible woman and a friend, and I were raised by my wonderful parents. My elegant and hardworking mother, Amalija, introduced me to fashion and beauty. My father, Viktor, instilled in me a passion for business and travel. Their integrity, compassion and intelligence reflects to this day on me and for my love of family and America."

Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] or (727) 893-8862. Follow @sara_dinatale.

Comments
Romano: Con artist or Florida politician? You decide

Romano: Con artist or Florida politician? You decide

Decorum matters, and so the attorney’s language was appropriately measured.In seeking to have a constitutional amendment thrown off the ballot, a motion filed in Leon County used words such as "misleading’’ and "ambiguity’’ and "wordsmithing.’’That’s...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Veteran Hernando politicians take oversized contributions, run afoul of campaign finance laws

Veteran Hernando politicians take oversized contributions, run afoul of campaign finance laws

BROOKSVILLE — With primary Election Day at the doorstep, two Republican candidates vying for seats on the Hernando County Commission found themselves in uncomfortable spots over potential filings with the Florida Commission on Ethics.And a third Repu...
Published: 08/15/18
Q&A: A Watergate trickster talks dirty politics, then and now

Q&A: A Watergate trickster talks dirty politics, then and now

CLEARWATERNearly half a century ago, Martin Kelly made the mistake of his life.He was a senior at the University of Miami when he decided to take part in what would become one of the most infamous political scandals in U.S. history: Watergate. He was...
Published: 08/15/18

Pasco Political Notebook for Aug. 17

Republican Club hosts candidate forum at meetingThe West Pasco Republican Club will host an "Election Extravaganza" candidate forum at its meeting Aug. 21 at Heritage Springs Country Club, 11345 Robert Trent Jones Parkway, Trinity. A social time will...
Published: 08/13/18
Updated: 08/15/18
Early voting in Pasco: Here’s what to remember when you head to the polls

Early voting in Pasco: Here’s what to remember when you head to the polls

Early voting Pasco County begins Saturday and runs through Aug. 25, with 11 locations across the county for voters.Polls are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 20-24, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug...
Published: 08/13/18
Largo election cancelled as incumbents stay with no opposition

Largo election cancelled as incumbents stay with no opposition

LARGO — There will be no suspense in the city when elections arrive Nov. 6. In fact, there will be no election at all, because all four city commissioners whose seats were up were re-elected by default when no one came forward by the end of the candi...
Published: 08/13/18
Florida candidate tried to prove she’s a college graduate. The school says her diploma is fake.

Florida candidate tried to prove she’s a college graduate. The school says her diploma is fake.

The political kerfuffle around Melissa Howard began when a news site reported that the Florida state House hopeful is not a college graduate, as she claims to be. To prove the story wrong, Howard, R, reportedly flew to her proclaimed alma mater, Ohio...
Published: 08/12/18
Romano: Two years later, politicians still ignoring Florida voters on medical marijuana

Romano: Two years later, politicians still ignoring Florida voters on medical marijuana

The war is over, except no one in Tallahassee has bothered to read the news.And so Florida continues its daft fight against medical marijuana. All of which means patients are being left behind, voters are getting ignored, and lawyers are buying fanci...
Published: 08/11/18
Hillsborough, tops in state for drug-addicted babies, will file suit against opioid makers

Hillsborough, tops in state for drug-addicted babies, will file suit against opioid makers

TAMPA — Hillsborough County plans to file a lawsuit next week against companies that manufacture opioid drugs, alleging that aggressive marketing of painkillers worsened the opioid crisis.The county joins a number of other local governments nationwid...
Published: 08/10/18
Ex-aide Omarosa says she refused hush money, pens White House memoir calling Trump racist

Ex-aide Omarosa says she refused hush money, pens White House memoir calling Trump racist

WASHINGTON — Omarosa Manigault Newman was offered a $15,000-a-month contract from President Donald Trump’s campaign to stay silent after being fired from her job as a White House aide by Chief of Staff John Kelly last December, according to a forthco...
Published: 08/10/18