• 39°

Editorial: Politics as usual: Beware of smears

We need to set the record straight on something, folks: Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign is NOT being funded by Internet contributions secretly channeled from underground neo-Nazi groups in Europe and America who are devoted to the cause of white supremacy and Aryan-Protestant domination of the world.
What? You haven’t heard that rumor yet? Actually, we haven’t heard it either ó but give it time. We’ve entered that silly season in the presidential race when half-baked conspiracy theories are flying more wildly than bullets at a Dick Cheney dove hunt, and the Internet smear machine is throttling into overdrive.
Latest example to float up from the muck: An e-mail message containing a column, purportedly written by Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, which offers the “stunning revelation” that Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign has benefitted from an influx of Internet donations from Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. In keeping with the closet Muslim/”Manchurian candidate” paranoid fantasy, some of the contributions were even traced to China, the column says, basing its allegations on tips from one of the campaign’s “Internet geeks.”
The column looks authentic, even down to the Dowd photo that appears on the Times Web site. There is one problem, however. Dowd never wrote such a column, and the scenario it describes is a complete fabrication. It’s just as bogus as earlier Internet-generated smears about Obama having his hand on the Quran, instead of a Bible, while being sworn in as a senator or McCain going stark, raving bonkers during his imprisonment in Vietnam.
Such smears are nothing new, of course. They’re as old as politics itself and, in fact, many historians still rate the 1828 campaign between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams one of the nastiest on record, with ó among other colorful assaults ó Adams accused of being a pimp and Jackson of marrying his second wife before being legally divorced from his first. Imagine if they’d had new media back in the time of Old Hickory.
That’s what is different these days, and why it would be naive to discount the damage such hoaxes can do. In the 19th century, when many Americans were barely literate, smear campaigns had to depend on word-of-mouth transmission or publication in penny broadsheets of the day. The mud oozed a lot more slowly. With the explosion of television, radio and, now, the wonders of broadband Internet, lies travel at the speed of light. And too many of us get most of our “news” from campaign ad soundbites and partisan political screeds.
Just as we’re warned to guard against identity theft, Americans would be well served to arm themselves against the campaign scams that are certain to proliferate in the weeks and months ahead. We know how easy it is for criminals to steal passwords and account numbers. We should be just as vigilant against unscrupulous operatives feverishly working to hijack this election.

Comments

Comments closed.

News

Defendant convicted in attempted murder case on the run after fleeing from trial

Business

Downtown Gateway Building to be renamed for late Paul Fisher

Coronavirus

Rowan County COVID-19 data for April 15

Local

Rep. Warren’s bill would prohibit parking in electric vehicle charging stations

Local

Historic Preservation Commission approves Integro Technologies expansion, Paint the Pavement project

Education

Faith Academy, RSS will negotiate over what goes, stays in elementary school

Crime

Teacher killed in Alamance County shootout with Mexican drug cartel

Coronavirus

Bill would give more tax breaks on COVID-19 loans

Nation/World

No response as divers knock on capsized ship’s hull

Local

Quotes of the week

Crime

Blotter: Man found on church property with litany of drugs

Crime

Man charged in connection to 2019 overdose death

Business

‘It’s our big time’: Salisbury Farmers Market reopens Saturday

Education

Schools capital funding still frozen as RSS sends local budget to county

Business

Shields, Cheerwine Festival receive N.C. Main Street Awards

Kannapolis

Duke University launches kidney disease study in Kannapolis for people of African descent

Education

Horizons Unlimited will hold in-person summer camps

Education

Education briefs: Catawba planning for more in-person activities, free summer school tuition

Coronavirus

County’s full COVID-19 vaccinations top 22,600

High School

High school golf: With Merrell, Mustangs back on top

Local

Spencer investigating rat problem on South Iredell Street

News

Livingstone, Mission House Church to host national ‘Black Voters Matter’ listening session

Education

Shoutouts

Business

Groundbreaking on Pennant Square signals next phase in downtown Kannapolis revitalization