The passing today of Kobe Bryant, his thirteen year old daughter Gianna Bryant, and other still-unidentified helicopter passengers, is a tragedy that should have nothing to do with politics. It’s a time for politicians and public figures to simply share their condolences, and let everyone grieve accordingly. Unfortunately, after President Barack Obama did precisely that, Donald Trump did something absurdly shameful.
Shortly after the news broke, Donald Trump posted this tweet, which was inaccurate and far from eloquent, but otherwise adequate: “Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!”
Then Barack Obama posted this far more eloquent tweet: “Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”
Okay fine, that’s about what we’d expect from each of them. Nothing to see here. But then, two hours after Obama’s tweet, Trump posted a second tweet about Kobe which blatantly ripped off Obama’s wording and phrasing: “Kobe Bryant, despite being one of the truly great basketball players of all time, was just getting started in life. He loved his family so much, and had such strong passion for the future. The loss of his beautiful daughter, Gianna, makes this moment even more devastating. Melania and I send our warmest condolences to Vanessa and the wonderful Bryant family. May God be with you all!”
It couldn’t be much more clear that Donald Trump (or his social media handlers) took Obama’s words and tweaked them just enough to try avoid accusations of plagiarism. Why do something so horrible and pointless, on a tragic matter that isn’t even political in nature? If two students turned in these two tweets, the professor would launch an investigation.
Considering Trump’s narcissism, he probably looked at the fact that his original Kobe tweet had only gotten about one-tenth as many likes as Obama’s tweet, and told his people to rip it off. This story should be about the loss of a beloved public figure and a young girl. Instead Trump has found a ridiculously shameful way to make it about himself.