Obama sets up office to counter rumors; will this work?

At least since the effective Swiftboating of John Kerry, RW’s have been using a tactic – a grassroots tactic, apparently, involvement in which Pub candidates and campaign organizations can plausibly (and in some cases honestly) deny – is to spread false smears about Dem pols and candidates, especially through viral spam e-mails. Obama in particular has been a frequent target. Story here.

The usual response by pols is to ignore such things, on the assumption that denying scandal just draws more attention to it. But now Obama is taking a different approach: He’s fighting back. To start with, he’s set up a new website to debunk the rumors.

Novel approach. Will it work? (Is there any other approach that might work better?)

Well, we know for sure that ignoring them doesn’t. Unfortunately rumors are an effective tactic as it give biased news organizations the opportunity to report the controversy. Observe how often Michell Obama’s “whitey” comment has been reported on in complete absence of any evidence.

Rumors will never be effective in getting someone to switch their vote, but they can help in suppressing the votes of those who would have voted for Obama. I think countering the rumors directly is the only effective countermeasure. You need to make the motivations of those who spread them clear. This should eliminate the voter suppression aspect, and maybe even cause a backlash that will increase votes for him.

Duplicate thread.

Not exactly. That thread is about the smears themselves, not the counteroffensive.

Didn’t someone link to an article recently that advised dealing with a workplace bully with several clever strategies? “Ignore it” was, despite years of parents’ advice, not on the list. This strikes me as something akin to that. Better to expose and point out your attackers’ reason for insulting, undermining, or simply fucking with you, than to either ignore, whine or attack in return.

In short, it might be a good thing, and could presage a long-overdue shift in how we, as a society, handle bullying and slander.

I’m curious if this will defang the likes of FOX in “reporting” such comments. If they are news and do their due diligence then when they see the (say) whitey rumor come across their desk they should investigate it and presumably find it debunked immediately.

Sure bloggers and such can ignore whatever they please but could even FOX sidestep such a simple fact check?

I like it. I always felt like the impression that John Kerry gave off by not fighting back against the Swiftboaters was that he had nothing with which to counter their arguments. My American Dad-like father used to gloat about this saying, “If these accusations aren’t true, why isn’t fighting them?”

Yeah…unfortunately you dignify the rumor when you start denying it.

Kind of like you do not want to answer the question, “Lord Ashtar, when did you stop beating your wife?”

I don’t understand the sinister trap supposedly offered by that question. Surely one can say “I have never beaten my wife, and I resent the implication,” and be done with it.

I like that Obama seems to be dealing with some of these with the appropriate amount of gentle eye-rolling and humor. I think that is the key. Make people seem foolish for propagating foolish rumors, but don’t necessarily call people idiots for believing them at first- it’s a fine line but they seem to get that.

“I’ll stop beating her when she wises up, thank you very much!”

“Fuck you! I’ve never beaten my wife, and you’re a piece of shit for even implying I have” is a far superior answer to that question than silence.

Presidential candidate evades wife-beating question, news at 11!

Obviously, Stolichnaya would go much farther in politics than I would…

Again because you give more life to the question by answering it. A lot of people feel the question to be so absurd as to be beneath a response and not dignify it with an answer. They hope most people will come to the same conclusion.

But if you answer the question as you did you can imagine the headlines the following day: “Stolichnaya denies having ever beaten his wife!” Now because the headline is out there like that many people will start thinking, “Hmm…if he had to answer that there MUST have been some reason to think he might have beaten his wife.”

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Also, I’m not married. :slight_smile:

Remember back when there were all these stupid internet urban legends, and then Snopes came around to debunk them and end them?


That is because people want to believe stupid things that reinforce their fears and prejudices. The only people likely to buy into this crap are not going to have their minds changed by the facts.

I haven’t looked at the website yet, but I think it’s a good idea. It gives Obama a place to rebut these silly things, without having to bring more attention to the issue or dignify the accusations with a public speech.

So, who was that lady you were beating last night?

Yes, I do.

Hasn’t driven a stake through the heart of the UL, of course, but it does put anyone who insists one is real on the defensive.

I think that the battle is well-fought, generally, and as people get more experience growing up with the internet (and, sorry to say, as people who never really “got” the internet die off), I think eventually we’ll at least get more people being a bit more skeptical about whatever they read. The class of “I believe every email I read” will shrink until it reaches the “crazy quartile”, which is more or less as much as we can expect.