Donald Trump, in response to the numerous exposés on his presidency hitting shelves this year, has taken to doing angry rebuttal interviews and praising books by his political allies. But I guess it runs in the family: as Internet sleuths discovered yesterday, Trump plagiarized HarperCollins publicity copy and passed it off as his own glowing review of Fox News’ Jesse Watters’s new memoir.
Trump’s blurb, released on his weird little website, went thus:
Great new book out by Jesse Watters, How I Saved the World. Interspersed are his thoughtful suggestions for overcoming left-wing radicalism, maintaining American democracy, moving beyond aging hippies (like his long-suffering, loving parents), saving the world from social justice warriors and the deep state—all while smirking his way through life in only the nicest way. Get your copy today, congratulations Jesse!
The blurb immediately raised suspicions, as its syntax isn’t particularly Trump-y. (He should have tacked on a “. . . LIKE A DOG!”) And there was an obvious, characteristic reason: as Slate senior editor Jeremy Stahl first noted on Twitter, the sentence beginning “Interspersed . . .” is lifted wholesale from the book’s “Details” page on HarperCollins’s website. If that sentence isn’t included, Trump’s blurb reads, “Great new book out by Jesse Watters, How I Saved the World. Get your copy today, congratulations Jesse!” which (I suppose) gets his message (get your copy today, congratulations Jesse) across.
It’s embarrassing, but as far as Trump gaffes go, this is pretty minor. (Remember “Two Corinthians”?) And blurbs might be the type of writing most likely to incur genuine instances of parallel thinking, as, like many have pointed out, most blurbs just kind of sound the same. (In fairness, there are so many bracing, unputdownable tour de forces out there.) Trump was just unlucky: he happened to plagiarize very specific plot summary. Hopefully he learned a valuable lesson in blurb writing this week: when in doubt, go for luminous.