Which is why this tweet from Trump is baffling. Or, better: Incorrect.
Good news is Melania's speech got more publicity than any in the history of politics especially if you believe that all press is good press!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2016
It is incorrect to say that Melania Trump's convention speech has "got more publicity than any in the history of politics," given that speeches like, say, the Gettyburg Address exist. Find me 50,000 middle school students who have memorized Melania's speech, and I'll consider the contest a little closer.
It has gotten a ton of publicity, of course, because of the plagiarism -- which is why it is also incorrect to say that "all press is good press," in the current context. Clearly Trump has believed this adage for some time, having enjoyed decades of biting and flattering coverage in the New York tabloids, coverage that he often initiated, good and bad. It is not true this week.
The point of the Republican convention was simple. Party chair Reince Priebus laid it out in an interview with The Post this week.
"I think as people get to see the person that some of us have gotten to know, that’s going to help him in the general election, because I think people actually want to like him," Priebus said. "They’re intrigued by him. They’re interested in him. And him becoming likable will make him unstoppable."
One way the party planned to do that was to feature speeches from Trump's family, including Melania. On Tuesday night for example, the second night of the convention, Donald Trump Jr. gave a well-received speech, talking about his relationship with his father. According to data from Facebook, a lot of people were talking about the convention on the social networking site. "In the last 24 hours, 14.6 million people in the U.S. generated 52.4 million likes, posts, comments and shares related to the convention and the candidates," Facebook reported.
But: "Top content continues to be related to Melania Trump’s Monday night speech."
That is not because of the content of the speech, which, unlike Donald Jr.'s, was not particularly interesting. It is because Melania used part of Michelle Obama's speech. That's it.
Here's what people have been most interested in searching for on Google in the United States since Monday. From shortly after Melania's speech, the most popular subject has been Melania Trump. She spoke the same night as Rudy Giuliani, who delivered a barn-burner. But notice that search interest for Giuliani dropped off quickly -- and searches for "plagiarism" nearly matched his peak!
That's hourly data, which obscures the spike Donald Jr. saw after his speech. If we look at the last 24 hours, you can see how interest in Melania was constant, while interest in him was brief.
But more importantly, look at that red line for Melania. It was dropping off! People were losing interest in the subject! And then Donald Trump tweeted to his 9.9 million followers. It's a bit like throwing rocks at a drowsy bear to see what it takes to keep him awake.
We've seen this pattern from the Trump camp before. Trump's campaign spent a week last month defending a tweet they picked up online that called Clinton corrupt by showing a Star-of-David-shape over a background of money. The campaign deleted the tweet within minutes, replacing the star with a circle, which, paired with an apology could have been the end of it. But they simply couldn't. They -- well, Trump -- couldn't keep from revisiting the issue, day after day. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich encouraged Trump to tweet an image (also lifted from someone on the web) showing a children's book with a similar star shape, which stirred the whole thing back up.
Why did Gingrich do that? He explained to CNN. "A substantial part of the campaign is going to be -- if you think the news media is honest and fair and totally neutral, then you ought to vote for Hillary," Gingrich told CNN. "But if you think the news media is biased, then join me."
That sort of makes sense? But not really. It's clearly what Trump was going for Wednesday morning though.
The media is spending more time doing a forensic analysis of Melania's speech than the FBI spent on Hillary's emails.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2016
This is wrong, too. The FBI had dozens of people investigating Clinton's server for months. Sure, a number of journalists have written about Melania's plagiarism, but only a few have spent a lot of time really trying to figure out what happened -- a question that is useful for what it reveals about the campaign more than it is revelatory about Melania Trump. The framing, though, is what Trump wants: That darn media! So biased!
Maybe Trump's tweets will work despite themselves. Maybe the traditional adage that throwing good money after bad doesn't hold up if you throw so much money at a person that they suffocate to death.
Or maybe this is just another example of Donald Trump being incapable of walking away from a fight that he can't and doesn't need to win.