Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fire at the Rumor Mill, Timmy!

Rumors2First, a brief programming note. My friend Leanne has asked me to contribute an occasional article to a blog that she and other activists have started. It is called Americans For Healthcare LINK, and I was happy to have my first entry posted. I’ll need to check with them about the formatting, because my paragraph breaks didn’t show up, and that makes it hard to read. But I’m pleased with it, and it was definitely from the heart. I hope you’ll stop by and take a look, and that the blog will help everyone to understand why it’s important that every American has the access to affordable healthcare. I firmly believe this.

Now, let’s dish some dirt, shall we?!

Did you hear about the interview that John Boehner gave to Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone? It’s supposed to appear in the June issue. At one point, they took a break, and Boehner thought he was off the record so he started speaking candidly to Taibbi. He went on a tirade and said that the poor and lazy are responsible for our current fiscal Fukushima; that American kids are fat and lazy; that Obama had his entire life handed to him on a silver plate, and Obama wants to cut doctors’ pay.

It was a bunch of horrible, inflammatory stuff, and it’s really been making the rounds on Facebook and on news sites. The Examiner wrote about it, and so did the Daily Kos. It was some really reactionary stuff coming out of his mouth. Can you believe it?

Well, I didn’t. I spent an hour trying to track down the provenance of the article, and I could find nothing on Rolling Stone or Taibbi’s blog. The original source of the article seemed to be a site called RumorMiller, and I found other stories there that were obviously fake. I checked on Snopes and found nothing, so I submitted the link to them for checking.

I am greatly bothered by the fact that so many accepted this as a true story, without bothering to check the veracity of it, or to even doubt the claims made. The comments and condemnations were flying fast and furious. I’m just a lowly blogger, but I do my best to maintain this blog with as much honesty as possible. I’ve come across stories about Palin that made me question their truth, and I have not written about them. I’m no fan of John Boehner’s policies, but I don’t think he’s a stupid or evil man, and the remarks he spewed just seemed way too extreme to be believable.

Let’s think about this for a moment. The Speaker sat down with a journalist from a known liberal magazine...a reporter known for tearing the teabaggers a new one in his articles and books, and was stupid enough to say these things to that reporter? And to think that they’d truly be off the record? The original article has not even been published yet, so there is no link to it to check. Taibbi writes a blog on the RS site, and he made no mention whatsoever about comments from the Speaker that would be sure to set off a perfect shitstorm of controversy. The text of the comments on the RumorMiller site were fraught with grammatical errors and misspellings; Taibbi would never let something like that get leaked out, not with his name attached to it.

And think about the name of the website where it appeared: RumorMiller. Why would anyone accept something from such a site as true?

What I found absolutely unforgivable was the Examiner article, in which this supposed interview was reported on as a factual one. After the main body of the article, they included this note:
This story originated on Rumorville.com and regardless of whether or not it's true, it's safe to say it's not a stretch from how the Republican's view the poor and middle class.
First of all, they got the name of the site wrong. They couldn’t even get the name of a site promoting rumors as factual news right! Second, realizing that it was not factual and reporting on it as if it were is the height of irresponsibility. (And they have an apostrophe in there that shouldn’t be. For shame.) Although Daily Kos originally reported on it, they later issued a note at the beginning of their article stating that it was not true, and that they had fallen for it. They didn’t double down and let people continue to believe that it was true like the Examiner did.

RumorsI think we all need to learn a lesson from this. My fellow liberals ridicule those who watch FoxNews for their gullibility and for believing everything Fox tells them to believe. The same thing happened here with this false rumor. Just as in our personal lives, we lose credibility if we spread false rumors—especially those that are hateful and hurtful to others—and we run the risk of losing the good faith of our friends, family, and readers when it comes to our underlying honesty. We are quick to react with anger at false rumors about our President (you know, that Kenyan anti-colonialist socialist Marxist communist Muslim guy), but we are awfully quick to share equally harmful lies about someone on the other side!

We need to do better. We need to think things through before we go with them, and continue to question, question, question. As I said, I am no fan of Boehner and do not support his policies. However, it is wrong to spread such lies about the man. We can’t stoop to that level and expect to be taken seriously, especially when we continue to disseminate such lies after we’ve realized they are not true. Words have power, and we need to try to use them with at much integrity as possible. I may not write on a national forum, but that sort of integrity is still the right thing to do.


  1. Any five second search can yield the right answers, but people don't want to wait the five seconds.
    We want it now!

  2. Well said, we need to keep to the facts, then have a true dialogue.

  3. Universal healthcare here and then across the globe. That's where we need to be.


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