'I Had No Idea I'd Be a Part of It': Journalist Jarrett Hill Describes Breaking Melania Trump Plagiarism Speech Story | NBC Bay Area
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'I Had No Idea I'd Be a Part of It': Journalist Jarrett Hill Describes Breaking Melania Trump Plagiarism Speech Story

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    NEWSLETTERS

    (Published Wednesday, July 20, 2016)

    A laid-off Bay Area journalist changed the national conversation with one tweet on Monday, and became an overnight sensation rocking the television talks shows spanning from the BBC to MSBNC.

    Jarrett Hill, who is originally from Fairfield, California, first shared on Twitter that Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland sounded similar to Michelle Obama's 2008 convention address.

    An Oakland company dedicated to rooting out plagiarism, Turnitin, later discovered that 6 percent of Trump’s speech was copied from Obama’s. 

    “I knew there would be a big story,” Hill told NBC Bay Area on Tuesday evening, one more than a dozen he’d given that day, including to the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and NBC’s Nightly News. “But I had no idea I’d be a part of it.”

    Hill doesn’t seem to be tired of telling the story of how it all happened: He was sitting in a Starbucks in Los Angeles, where he moved after getting laid off from ABC Action News WFTS in Florida last year, and was listening to Trump’s speech. He heard her say "… the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams …”

    And his ears perked up.

    Then this followed: “… and your willingness to work for them.”

    Hill knew that phrase. He had written it down after Obama said it eight years ago. He Googled the words and saw that he had been right; Obama’s speech popped right up to the top of the search.

    “I just thought it was a great way to express possibility," he recalled. "I guess Melania thought it as well.”

    Hill tweeted out what has now become the most memorable moment to date from the RNC.

    Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has countered that no one stole anything.

    “Melania must’ve liked Michelle Obama’s 2008 Convention speech, since she plagiarized it," Hill tweeted.

    He then corrected himself, after watching a YouTube speech Obama made, and realized that Trump took more than just one sentence.

    "CORRECTION: Melania stole a whole graph from Michelle's speech," Hill tweeted, linking viewers to the video he used to compare the speeches.

    A stand-up comic, interior designer, DIY enthusiast and host of a weekly podcast where he interviews celebrities and rants about the week’s biggest stories, Hill said he is actively looking for work.

    He first graduated from Solano Community College in 2005, and then moved to Atlanta, where he studied mass media, radio, TV and film.

    Since then, he's held several jobs and been in several cities. He said he's worked as a CNN Presents intern, a production assistant with WXIA TV 11 Alive News in Atlanta, and an activities cruise director with Celebrity Cruises. He still hosts Back2Reality and contributes as a blogger to the Huffington Post.

    But until he finds that steady paycheck, Hill said he’s enjoying his 15 minutes no matter how surreal it is.

    “Watching the whole thing unfold,” he said. “I thought the whole thing was weird. I mean really weird.”

    Contact Lisa Fernandez at lisa.fernandez@nbcuni.com or 408-432-4758. Follow on Twitter at @ljfernandez