Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Anatomy Of An Internet Rumor

Last week, a few local Democratic blogs in a southern state began circulating a rumor that a prominent statewide elected Republican official had been caught in bed having sex with a male staffer by his wife. The rumor had it that the young up-and-comer, who towed the conservative line on things like gay marriage, would be announcing his resignation shortly. Word had it that Sen. John McCain's campaign had acted quickly and removed the next Larry Craig from an official role in his campaign. The rumor quickly spanned across the Internet, being touted by the usual liberal suspects as an another example of a hypocritical family values Republican gone bad. By the time it made it's way to the Daily Kos, it wasn't just a rumor, it was a fact. Some local Indiana blogs (including those critical of this blog's decision to report Larry Sinclair's sex and drug allegations against Sen. Barack Obama) jumped on the bandwagon as well.

Well, guess what, the resignation of the official never took place. A planned press conference to address the claim was supposedly called off after the state's leading newspaper decided there was no story to report. One of the local blogs began back-peddling on the story. The blog wrote:

A source close to (Blank), in adamantly denying the allegations about (Blank) in rumors that are circulating, called the rumors “atrocious” and “as bad a smear attempt as (Blank) faced in 1998.” ((Blank) was a Republican candidate for Lt. Gov. in 1998 when he was confronted with accusations that he assaulted and raped a prostitute. The accusations where shown to be false, and (Blank) won the election.)
Another local blog, which is no fan of the high-ranking Republican in question, offered this prescient perspective on the effort to make the rumor true on Internet blogs:

Over the last few weeks of this rumor being propogated, and the last week of this being all over the Internet, there hasn’t been a single shread of corroboration that anything has happened except that (Blank) and his wife are on the outs.

Guess what guys? That story’s pretty old. Here’s a big secret (Blank) probably doesn’t want you to know about. A lot of people that work with and around him don’t like him, and they talk smack about him to me and others (mostly others, and then it trickles down to me weeks later). I didn’t bring up his purported marital problems because it didn’t even occur to me to bring it up . . .

And that record is often believed and spread beyond our small group of readers and beyond the Internet. So it becomes accepted by many that Barack Obama is a Muslim who doesn’t say the pledge of allegiance, the September 11 attacks were actually a government conspiracy, and (Blank) is actually gay . . .

So my conclusion is that (Blank) shouldn’t resign over this petty crap, and those of us who are his vocal [and reasonable] opponents shouldn’t jump on this bandwagon of slander. (Blank) is unfit for office and has a history of ethical lapses, immature actions, demagoguery, and politicization of his official duties. Do we really have to stoop low and become rumor spreaders? Do we need to go so low as to make unfounded accusations about his sexuality, especially those of us who cite his homophobia as one reason for our opposition?

What happened to this prominent southern politician this past week is simply inexcusable. The blogs on the Left will do anything to destroy a Republican, no matter how harmful it is to the wife and family of the politician whom they are targeting, and justify it based on political ideology. I know nothing about this Republican official. Maybe there is some truth to the rumors, but it seems to me there should at least be a person with some first-hand knowledge stepping forward with information before you go and spread it all over the Internet. You can't google this man's name without reading all kinds of stuff about what a hypocritical, closeted homosexual he is now. And based on what? As one local blogger said after the fact, "Did any of you even bother to ask his wife who supposedly kicked him out of the house if it was true?"

We saw this same thing earlier this year when a local Democratic blogger published a false and defamatory claim that a Republican candidate for Congress was gay and then had the audacity to claim he considered the Republican candidate a friend and meant no harm by it when called out on it. The same Democratic blogger did the same but even worse to an openly gay Democratic candidate for Congress in 2006 so it came as no surprise. Nationally, one blogger has made a name for himself outing closeted homosexual politicians, as long as they are Republicans. He has repeatedly published unsubstantiated rumors about a southern Republican governor being gay. He even named a young male staffer with whom the governor had supposedly had sex, only to have the male staffer later deny the claim. As I learned a long time ago, with these kinds of people, their ways are always Machiavellian. The ends always justifies the means. If it can destroy the person's political career, it's justified whether it's true or not.

Note that I have intentionally chose not to link to any of the blogs in question or identify the name of the politicians in question to avoid propagating the rumors associated with these politicians' names. It's easy enough for you to find on your own by doing your own google search. I'm not going to give them the satisfaction of boosting traffic to their sites, which is the reward they are seeking for their dirty deeds. Several of the usual suspects attempted to post comments about the rumor pertaining to this politician on this blog over the last several days anonymously, of course, as they always do when carrying out their dirty work.


Anonymous said...

With all due respect, your outrage would be a lot more plausible if you weren't reporting Larry Sinclair's allegations as if they were proven fact. Frankly, when it comes to the Sinclair story (and some other Obama internet conspiracies), you're demanding that Obama and/or his campaign prove a negative. "Prove you weren't born in Kenya", "Prove that you didn't have gay sex with Larry Sinclair", and so on. Asking anyone to argue a point in this fashion isn't particularly fair or intellectually honest. Before you flip out on me because I invoked your enemy Barack Obama, I would have the EXACT same opinion if the tables were turned. I found the "prove you didn't do cocaine, George Bush" and "prove that you didn't sell pot to Brett Kimberlin, Dan Quayle" line of questioning to be out of line as well. You're right, Gary, reporting internet rumors as if they were established fact is incredibly irresponsible. Repeating ANY speculation on the internet as if it were established fact is irresponsible as well. I won't call you a hypocrite, but I suspect you don't see the irony of your outrage here.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I fully expected that comment, small-question. I would respect your comment a lot more if you wouldn't hide in anonymity as you say it. In the case of Sinclair, this is a person claiming to have first-hand knowledge of certain events. He has put his assertions in a sworn affidavit, they were laid out in a federal lawsuit and he has stated them publicly in writing, by name and in a video-taped recording. He has opened himself up to more investigation of his background than Barack Obama, the man who would have his hand on the button. He has given health records to reporters. He has provided hotel receipts. He has offered names of fact witnesses and offered up his cell phone records, and I could go on. He has paid a big price for coming forward. An Obama blog set up to discredit him has been exceptionally harsh on him. It turns out that the anonymous blogger behind that blog himself has a criminal record for fraud and check deception. Moreover, Obama openly speaks of his life spinning out of control from drug use in his autobiography but apparently thinks the matter is off limits once the initial disclosure is made. As to questions surrounding his birth, Obama has been caught on several occasions telling something short of the truth about his family background. The "natural born" issue is fair game because it's a constsitutional requirement. John McCain's birth gets questioned in the NY Times and the Washington Post, but noboby can ask questions about Obama's birth. McCain comes from a prominent American military family. Much is already in the public record about his family history. Obama comes out of nowhere and is a mystery to people. Never before has someone gotten so close to the presidency about whom so little is known. Bloggers are right to dig for more information about his birth, such as was he adopted by his Indonesian father. Why do classmates in Indonesia know him by a different name than Obama? Why do classmates say other things about the religion he practiced but now denies? Why are dates for a marriage and divorce given for his parents and then his own wife says his mother was single when he was born? The southern Republican politician who was the subject of these rumors didn't write a book saying he used to have gay sex as Obama wrote in his book about drug use. The two situations are not in the least big analagous and so, no, your anonymous hypocrite comment doesn't hold water.

Anonymous said...

Gary, your repsonse is sadly predictable whenever someone calls you out about Larry Sinclair. Larry Sinclair has no credibilty. Zero. Nada. Zilch. He hasn't provided a single piece of evidence that backs up his story. For instance, you breathlessly claim that "offered up names of witnesses", of course you leave out that not a single solitary person has come forward to verify his story. But sure, go on Gary, go on believing the part of Larry Sinclair's story that implicates Obama in the murder of a gay choir director. Given the thoroughness of the Clinton opposition research machine, if there was any "there" there, it would have come out during the primaries. As for the birth certificate, if Obama wasn't a natural born citizen, then the FEC would have disqualified him the minute he filed his papers declaring his candidacy. Second, refer to my comment about the Clinton machine's ability to dig up dirt. It's a pretty big stretch to say that there must be evidence proving Obama was born in Kenya (which you have floated several times on this blog), yet the Clinton campaign wouldn't have used it? Asking someone to prove a negative, Gary, is intellectually dishonest. Ask Dan Quayle about when he was asked to prove that he didn't sell pot to Brett Kimberlin (someone who had as much credibility as Larry Sinclair). As for the "anonymous" blast you threw at me, I personally don't make it a policy to reveal my name on internet boards. It's the sensible thing to do, you never can quite gauge the stability of people you encounter in cyberspace, why take that to chance. If you really want to know, post your email and I'll drop you a line.

Anonymous said...

What about your blog posts on the alleged "whitey" video by Michelle Obama - I think I can discern which one of you smells of hypocricy.

Now, are you going to proceed to back-peddle or spin? Last you reported, this video was coming out at the tail end of the democratic primary. Does this mean you still believe it will come out as the October surprise?

Gary R. Welsh said...

small-question, You have my e-mail address so don't use that excuse. Actually, while the Clinton campaign has not directly put their hands on the Larry Sinclair matter, if you bother to take a gander at some of the staunchest pro-Clinton blogs, you will find much talk there about it, as well as the issue of Obama's citizenship status. TexasDarlin and NoQuarter have been on the forefront of the citizenship issue in proving the birth certificate furnished by the Obama campaign for a fake. The Israel Insider also did an analysis of the birth certificate and concluded it was a fake. You want us to assume the worst about Sinclair and the best about Obama. We are to ignore his propensity for not telling the truth and his close association with people who are now locked up in jail for committing various crimes against the public. The Clintons similarly denied all the womanizing claims and smeared everyone who came forward with stories. Guess, what? The crazy women were the ones telling the truth and not Clinton.

Josh, As for the whitey tape, we shall see. The Republicans have no reason to produce the video until after Obama is nominated. In the meantime, Obama makes derogatory statements about "greedy white folks" in his own book, which he even went to the trouble of narrating. That should make for a good commercial this fall, hey?

Anonymous said...

Gary, I actually don't have your email address, possibly you think I'm someone else? Either way, quoting NoQuarter as an "authoritative" source isn't particularly bright. When even the National Review Online and Little Green Footballs think that the birth certificate story is, in fact, a non-story (LGF in fact linked to a non-Obama supporting blogger who painstakenly examined the documents and determined that they weren't forgeries), it's time to move on. Of course, NoQuarter was THE source of the whole "whitey tape" slur to begin with. NQ's Larry Johnson (who famously wrote a column in the summer of 2001 declaring that terrorism was no real threat) insisted that this tape was going to be released within days and couldn't backpedal fast enough when Reason Magazine began poking holes in his story with ludicrous ease. I don't get where you're coming from here, Gary. During the Peterson/Ballard race, you analyzed the race soberly and engaged in substantive discussions of the issues. But, man oh man, your tone about the Presidential race has been anything but sober and substantive. Hitching your wagon to rumors that you seem to desperately want to be true and associating with the paranoids at NoQuarter doesn't do a great deal for your credibility, I'm sorry to say. If you think that McCain honestly has the best positions on the economy, war, gay marriage, environment, etc, then vote for him based on that. If you feel that you can't vote for Obama because he's a Muslim Nazi African Alien Terrorist Puppy killer, and breathlessly link to self-reverential blogs to bolster your "case", then you cease to be credible. Truthfully, I thought Abdul's credibility meltdown was the worst I've seen out of this community before now. You're taking this blog to a place you really don't want it to go. Again, Gary, if you want to know who I am, give me your email and I'll tell you.

Gary R. Welsh said...

My e-mail address has always been posted on this site, if you just bother to look for it. I laugh every time I hear you or anybody else claim I did such a good job during the Ballard-Peterson race. You and your buddies were slamming me on the other blogs non-stop for supposedly going over the edge and completely losing it. I don't care what you think of my blog, small-question. I don't get paid to write this blog. I'm exercising my free speech right. If you don't like it, go elsewhere. It really doesn't matter to me whether you approve of what I write or not. I just know that the traffic to this site has been going in one direction since I started it a few years ago, and that's up. I will not allow people like you to manipulate me into writing what you want to read. I am one of the few bloggers who is not afraid to criticize people within my own political party when I disagree with what they're doing so don't go off on me for what I write about Obama. He is the most unqualified and unprepared candidate for president in modern history. That is a fact whether you want to believe it or not. His candidacy is a complete fraud and total joke on the American democratic process. You don't like it because I reduce him to what he really is--a two-bit phony, corrupt Chicago politician who has built a fantasy world around himself that too many people have fallen into and now find it too embarrassing to admit their mistake.