On Monday, the first lady announced her new official platform, which is focused on helping children in the United States. However, the first lady has received criticism for her initiative, as some believe that Melania Trump copied Michelle Obama with her "Be Best" slogan. Twitter had some strong opinions about the similarities between the new slogan and a quote from Obama, with some accusing Trump of plagiarism.
As Trump described during a Rose Garden speech on Monday, her "Be Best" campaign will focus on three main initiatives: ending opioid abuse, encouraging positive social media use, and promoting well-being. In describing why she chose the platform, the first lady said during her speech, "As a mother and as first lady, it concerns me that in today's fast-paced and ever-connected world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions and oftentimes turn to forms of destructive or addictive behavior such as bullying, drug addiction or even suicide."
Shortly after Trump announced her platform, some on social media noted the similarities between her "Be Best" slogan and Obama's "Be better" quote. According to Time, Obama had first proposed the "Be better" solution at the White House Summit on the United States of Women in 2016. When asked by Oprah Winfrey what men can do to help end sexism in the workplace, the former first lady had commented, "Be better."
Many social media users were not pleased by the similarity between the slogan and the quote, and they took to Twitter to express their discontent. Some users condemned Trump for supposedly copying from Obama, while others praised the former first lady for "sharing" her ideas with Trump.
In addition to noting some similarities between the phrases, other Twitter users were also struck by the similar nature of two booklets advising parents on how to talk with their children about internet use — one which was released by the Federal Trade Commission during the Obama administration and one which was just released as part of Trump's "Best Best" campaign. The booklets are nearly identical, save the alteration of a few graphics and the addition of an introduction by Trump in the 2018 version.
As The Guardian reported, the booklet had originally been touted on the "Be Best" campaign's website as "a booklet by First Lady Melania Trump and the Federal Trade Commission." As the outlet noted, in an apparent response to criticism, the website language has now been updated to describe the booklet as “a Federal Trade Commission booklet, promoted by First Lady Melania Trump." The paper also reported that a White House official had confirmed the website language change, noting that "there seemed to be confusion so we wanted to be clear."
Those on Twitter were also quick to criticize the similarities between the two booklets. One Twitter user, @allanbrocka, wrote, "Melania plagiarizes again. This time she took credit for writing a booklet about cyber bullying — it was actually made during the Obama administration. #BeBest?"
This does not constitute the first time that the current first lady has been accused of using ideas from the Obama administration. In 2016, Trump gave a speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, that had significant similarities to a speech given by Michelle Obama in 2008 at that year's Democratic convention. A Trump campaign aide, Meredith McIver, eventually took responsibility for the similarities between the two speeches.
Rolling Stone reported that McIver offered an explanation in a statement released by the Trump Organization in July 2016:
In working with Melania Trump on her recent First Lady speech, we discussed many people who inspired her. ... A person she has always liked is Michelle Obama. ... Over the phone, she read me some passages from Mrs. Obama's speech as examples. I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech. I did not check Mrs. Obama's speeches. This was my mistake.
Overall, this is certainly not the first time that Trump has been accused of capitalizing on Obama's ideas. As Time reported, the first lady has not yet responded to this most recent critique of her "Be Best" initiative.