Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Don’t Pass Along the Lies

If I’ve learned anything in this long, long political campaign it is not to be sucked into the lies that the lying liars tell!
by Charlie Leck

This blog shall also be the body of an email that I am going to send to 103 individuals…

Email and the Internet have made it so easy to participate in big lies during a political campaign. To do so, however, is totally unethical and deeply immoral and we should remember that!

I got sucked into one of these lies during the campaign and passed it along quite enthusiastically to a host of people on my email list and I put it on my blog where about 5,000 readers visit regularly. Someone sent me to see this video of John McCain losing his temper with a reporter while mid-flight somewhere high above the U.S.. In the video, McCain used some serious profanity with this young, female reporter. Turns out it was faked and completely untrue. I learned that about an hour after posting it and, of course, I immediately pulled down the blog and put up an apology. I also sent a follow-up email to the 50 or so people to whom I had sent a link to this video.

This year I have kept careful track of the untrue, non-factual and outright lying emails I’ve received about Obama and his campaign. 83 different emails came to me that were completely untrue – sent to me by 103 different people. A quick fact-check was able to disprove them and debunk them. I’ve made up my mind, now that the campaigning is over, that I am going to contact each of these people and point out the untrue nature of the mailing they sent me. Many of these people are good friends and I hope they will remain so, but we have all got to stop participating in this passing on of outright lies about good people.

A friend recently wrote to me expressing his shame about how little Obama gives to charity. I checked the facts. Obama gave his church over 27,000 dollars in both 2005 and 2006. In 2007 he gave a total of over 240,000 dollars to charities (his income was up due to book sales).

Another friend, the wife of the one above, also sent me an email that she had copied to many, many people that had a letter attached that purported to be from someone on the staff of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. It bashed Obama significantly. The problem? That person never wrote or sent the letter out. It was very easy to fact-check this and to find out the letter was a scam. I pointed this out to my friend and asked her to send an apology to me and to all the people to whom she sent the email. She didn’t.

Passing lies like this along is easy as hell. All you do is hit the forward button and click off a hundred or so names in your address book. Boom! The email is sent to all these folks. If the email is a lie, it is downright unethical and the forwarder bears some heavy moral responsibility for passing along the lie.

Perhaps the best latest example of the big lie being passed along to hundreds of thousands of people is the one about Michelle Obama and her room-service charges at the Waldorf-Astoria. The story originated in the New York Post. Here’s how Snopes (one of several good places to check out the factualness of these rumors) explained it:

“Is this true?

“THOUGH he’s battling GOP accusations that he’s an Ivy League elitist, Barack Obama has a lifestyle of the rich and famous, like TV show host Robin Leach, who always signed off: ‘Champagne wishes and caviar dreams!’ While he was a meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Michelle Obama called room service and order lobster hors d’oeuvres, two whole steamed lobsters, Iranian caviar and champagne, a tipster told page six.”
I received various versions of this story from 4 different people, all of whom knew my devotion to the Obamas, and they took great glee in passing along this story that, by the way, turned out to be totally false (as Snopes points out). Michelle Obama wasn’t even at that hotel on that afternoon. She wasn’t even in New York. She was in Fort Wayne, Indiana, giving a speech at the Grand Wayne Convention Center. Here’s the retraction that appeared in the Post:

“The source who told us last week about Michelle Obama getting lobster and caviar delivered to her room at the Waldorf-Astoria must have been under the influence of a mind-altering drug. She was not even staying at the Waldorf. We regret the mistake, and our former source is going to regret it, too. Bread and water would be too good for such information.”
To me that retraction is too cute. Why no admission for participating in the immorality of such gossip. And, where the hell is the apology? We regret the mistake is not the same as saying: “Mrs. Obama, we’re extremely sorry to have lied about you!”

There are dozens and dozens of examples like this and giving you an accounting of any more of them doesn’t serve the purpose of this email (blog). There was so much crap about Obama’s Muslim ties and terrorist intentions. Hundreds of examples of his lack of patriotism were passed along. They all turned out to be untrue.

What I am saying here is this? Passing along such lies is immoral. It makes us a liar, too. We have a responsibility to be truthful – in all things, but especially in something so important as a Presidential election. Lying is cheating! Lying is unethical! Lying is immoral. Paint it other ways if you wish, but in your hearts you know the truth.

The people who sent me and others these bogus emails owe a lot of people an apology.

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