The Wingnut Smear Machine at Work

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Bush Administration

We’ve been watching this happen for years now: Some juicy bit of disinformation appears on a far-right blog or forum, and within hours it goes up the rightie media infrastructure food chain — to NewsMax to Drudge to Limbaugh to the Washington Times to Bill O’Reilly — and then corporate media reports that “a story is circulating about. …”

And, IMO, many of these juicy bits are planted originally by highly placed political operatives who also make sure the other links in the chain are tipped off.

Dave Johnson provides a current example (emphasis added):

“Someone” posted an anti-semitic comment at the Obama blog. (See if you can guess who posted a comment that a right-wing blog knew about a few minutes later.) A few minutes later the hate site Little Green Footballs wrote a post saying that the Obama blog says so-and-so. (If you don’t know about this site, spend a few minutes there and you’ll get the picture. No, it is not a parody of right-wing nuttiness.) Then dozens of far-right-wing sites quickly echoed the “story.” It rapidly turns into a great big right-wing hissy fit.

Soon the right’s Politico has picked it up. (Which shows they’re spending time reading hate sites.) And then Rush Limbaugh talked about it on his show.

You see, someone (guess who) leaving a comment at the Obama site proves that Obama is anti-semitic. You’ll be hearing about it from every direction very soon.

Obviously, it’s enormously unlikely LGF would have known about and blogged about the anti-semitic post “a few minutes later” unless someone involved in the origination of the post tipped them off.

The Right did a hell of a job with this during the 2004 “swift boating” of John Kerry. It’s the easiest thing in the world to pull a crazy allegation out of thin air and then float it around as if it were legitimate inquiry. You’ll remember this classic confrontation between Chris Matthews and Michelle Malkin:

Ah, I never get tired of that. Anyway — Questions are being asked whether John Kerry shot himself to get a purple heart. We don’t need evidence or anything approaching a factual basis for those questions. Somebody makes up some questions, and away we go. Questions are being asked whether Michelle Malkin worships the Devil. Questions are being asked if Michelle Malkin tortures puppies. Hey, I’d like to know.

Now Michelle Malkin is asking questions about Barack Obama.

Jim Geraghty takes a look at longstanding blog buzz over Barack Obama’s birth certificate, which the campaign refused to release to the St. Petersburg Times in April:

We tried to obtain a copy of Obama’s birth certificate, but his campaign would not release it and the state of Hawaii does not make such records public.

Has anyone seen it? Why shouldn’t the record be in the public domain for presidential candidates?

Geraghty walks through various rumors now circulating in the wake of the Obama campaign’s birth certificate blackout, including this one:

Rumor Three: His mother did not want to name him after his father, and his birth certificate says “Barry.” Perhaps the most plausible of the rumors, as Obama was known by that name through much of his childhood and young adulthood. If true, this would spur a new round of “When Barry Became Barack” stories – a minor headache for the campaign, but hardly a major scandal.

Other rumors are that Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii; his middle name is really “Muhammad,” not “Hussein”; his parents weren’t really married.

One might argue the Obama campaign ought to just release the mystery birth certificate to put the rumors to rest. But you know that would just set off a new round of rumors. Some rightie blogger would question the authenticity of the birth certificate, and that very evening Sean Hannity would look into a Faux Nooz camera and intone, why did Barack Obama release a forged birth certificate? Questions are being asked, after all.

The hunger of the right-wing rumor beast can never be satisfied. However, I do strongly suggest the Obama campaign hire some hall monitors for their campaign web sites — no more unfiltered public comments allowed. Obama supporters will understand.

Regarding the Barry/Barack question, you might ask why that’s a question. I don’t know, but then — I’m not insane. Apparently Obama’s given name is Barack, and as a child people called him “Barry,” but as he approached adulthood he decided he’d rather be called “Barack.” No rational person could read anything sinister in that. Little Jimmies and Bobbies do have a way of becoming Jims and Bobs when they grow up, and Jameses and Robertses if they become important.

But we’re talking about wingnuts, so … never mind. Questions are being asked about why Obama changed his name. There must be some double super secret darkest Africa gang-related terrorist fist-jab reason.

Update: BTW, I won’t be letting the wingnuts hijack the site today. If you are a right-wing troll, don’t hold your breath waiting for your comment to be posted. No, wait … do hold your breath. Please.

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11 Comments

  1. Frederick  •  Jun 10, 2008 @11:08 am

    You kinda right but I don’t understand why you have to call them ‘wingnuts’ when all that is being asked is the verification that the next potential President of the United States meets the constitutional requirements of holding that office. All Obama has to do to shut people up is simply allow access to his (Hawaiian) Birth Certificate as the other candidates have done. Its the hiding stuff like this that kills a candidate.

  2. maha  •  Jun 10, 2008 @11:11 am

    Frederick — read the whole post all the way through before you comment, please.

  3. Bonnie  •  Jun 10, 2008 @11:39 am

    Why should Barack answer these silly questions of the wingnuts, when W never answered a legitimate news question about going AWOL while in the Air National Guard. And, none of these wingnuts seem to think that it is important to know if the current President went AWOL while serving in the military–not a good recommendation for a commander in chief. If they would only show some consistency in there demands for “honesty.” They never demanded that W answer the questions about his military service, which was a bit more than Obama’s birth certificate. Did Frederick ask and want the answers to those questions about Bush? Probably not.

  4. marybel  •  Jun 10, 2008 @11:49 am

    Maha,

    Just because the “beast” may ask other questions is not any sort of valid reason for Obama to keep this under wraps. I DID read the post the whole way through, and by your weak assertion, nobody needs to release anything for fear of a follow up. Far as I can see, Frederick’s point is viable: your excuse for letting this be covered up is unexcusably lame.

    If there’s nothing to hide, let’s see some of that famed, promised transparency.

  5. maha  •  Jun 10, 2008 @12:06 pm

    marybel, dear, I’m sure Obama has already gone through a thorough security-clearance vetting by the feds. If he had been born in Kenya the Bush Justice Department spooks would have found it out by now. Duh.

    You and the other wingnuts are just being stupid. As usual.

    Obama could release his birth certificate, and might yet, but that won’t do a thing to stop the insane rumors you wingnuts will continue to pull out of your asses. So why bother?

    BTW, I want Michelle Malkin to PROVE to me she doesn’t torture puppies. People are asking questions, yet she says nothing. What is she hiding?

  6. Raphael  •  Jun 10, 2008 @12:30 pm

    Err- you mean the four exclamation marks in my deleted post, and the “logic” about “Barack” being such a great name if you run for president, and the “:)”, didn’t tip you of that I was mocking certain people? Ok, sorry, it wasn’t particulary good mockery, and a lot of these folks are so silly that they might really have said something like that.

  7. SteveG  •  Jun 10, 2008 @12:49 pm

    It’s a trap…the same stupid one the Republican operatives been using for two decades. They create a dilemma:

    If you don’t answer their inane questions, it’s an argument from ignorance based inference that something is being hidden. Gotcha.

    If you do respond to debunk it, then (just like with Intelligent Design) they simply repeat, repeat, repeat the accusation while ignoring the evidence refuting it. The fact that there is now a “serious disagreement” involving a Presidential candidate shows that it is a serious topic to be reported on widely and the fair and balanced way to present the story is “some say this is true, but slimy politician worried about getting votes denies it.” Gotcha.

    Further, once you’ve shown you’ll play their silly little game, they’ll deluge you with made up accusations to tie you up and make sure you can’t stay on message. They will work hard to use up all the oxygen in the room — gotcha.

    And should you try to stop playing it once you’ve started, the fact that you answered the previous questions, but not the next one is used as evidence that THIS LAST question really has something behind it because if the candidate wasn’t hiding something, why wouldn’t he answer it the way he did with the others? Hmmm? Gotcha.

    One way to deal with it is to do what the Republicans do. Ignore it and slime the person who brought it up. This is why they never have to answer for anything.

    The best way to deal with it, though, seems to be what Obama is best at — going meta. The Wright nonsense? Give a serious talk about race. Show the scam from above the scam as opposed to trying to fight the scam from inside. Show that the problem isn’t with the question,itself, but with the fact that we ask THAT inane question instead of the deep one beneath it that we’ve been ignoring.

  8. felicity  •  Jun 10, 2008 @3:45 pm

    Reminds me of a technique used by Gingrich when early on in his political career he was running for the House. He’d plant, or get planted a ‘story’ in the local newspaper – often something derogatory about his opponent. Weeks later he’d set up a q and a session with reporters. In the course of the session, he’d repeat his ‘planted’ story. If a reporter questioned the validity or the source of the story, Gingrich’s pat answer would be that ‘he’d read it in the paper!!! G. used the ‘technique’ more than once and it always worked in that his opponent ended up damaged beyond repair – not to mention that G won the House seat.

  9. felicity  •  Jun 10, 2008 @4:19 pm

    Need to add, that had there been such a thing as an investigative reporter in that crowd of reporters, he/she would have done just that and easily exposed Gingrich.

    Since it’s the media that give these ‘stories’ legs, it’s the responsibility of those media to cut the legs out from under them by proving them specious.

  10. Swami  •  Jun 11, 2008 @1:08 am

    Wow… Michelle Malkin is really a mess..For the life of me, I can’t understand how her blog rates as high as it does, or how anybody would give her any credibility for intelligent thought. What is it that makes nothing into something?.. Is lt like flies to shit?, obnoxious stupidity seeks it own? Everybody loves a geek?

    It’s a sad commentary on the quality of our media that someome of Malkin’s calibre should ever be featured in a discussion where seriousness and intelligence might be considered as a basis. She’s the lame defender of the strawman.

  11. Jinxi  •  Jun 11, 2008 @7:40 pm

    You hit the nail on the head when you said they’d just turn the truth around to what they want to believe. A prime example of that was when the idiots at Sweetness & Light went digging for proof that Obama had a relative who helped liberate a concentration camp (see Sadly, No! for a quick run-down if you haven’t heard the story already). When a surviving member of the 89th Division came out and said that Charlie Payne was at Ohrdurf, the wingnuts starting bleating “Well, how rude! I bet Raymond Kitchell isn’t really a vet.” Same ol’, same ol’.

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