As a card-carrying member of the New Right Wing Smear Machine, I read the recent story by The Nation with interest. I thought the Nation would have probably packed up and moved to Nicaragua by now, but apparently it hasn't. It's alive and well and documenting what it sees as the problems of the Republic from a domestic location.
Although headline smacks of yellow journalism, the story itself is fairly reasonable in tone, although slanted like nobody's business to the left, as one would naturally expect from such a bastion of the Left.
The last couple weeks there've been treatments of the New Right Wing Smear Machine for a variety of offenses. First, there was the offense of questioning someone, the "smear" against Graeme Frost. Michelle Malkin and Mark Steyn, hold up your hands.
Then an aide to Mitch McConnell asked some reporters if they might--gasp!--do some reporting. That was a second Right Wing "smear". Now the culprits are forwarding emails. That's got The Nation fired up.
As they put it:
Such is the power of the right-wing smear forward, a vehicle for the dissemination of character assassination that has escaped the scrutiny directed at the Limbaughs and Coulters and O'Reillys but one that is as potent as it is invisible. In 2004 putative firsthand accounts of Kerry's performance in Vietnam traveled through e-mail in right-wing circles, presaging the Swift Boat attacks. Last winter a forward began circulating accusing Barack Obama of being a secret Muslim schooled in a radical madrassa (about which more later). While the story was later fed through familiar right-wing megaphones, even making it onto Fox, it has continued to circulate via e-mail long after being definitively debunked by CNN. In other words, the few weeks the smear spent in the glare of the mainstream media was just a tiny portion of a long life cycle, most of which has been spent darting from inbox to inbox.Mentioning Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News in the same paragraph without the writer collapsing into spasms must have taken an act of self-control not seen since the last pretty girl passed Bill Clinton without the former president groping her. The history of this insidious tool of conservative knuckle-draggers is fleshed out a bit.
The smear forward has its roots in two distinct forms of Internet-age communication. First, there's the electronically disseminated urban legend ("Help find this missing child!"; "Bill Gates is going to pay people for every e-mail they send!"), which has been a staple of the Internet since the mid- '90s. Then there's the surreal genre of right-wing e-mail forwards. These range from creepy rage-filled quasi-fascist invocations ("The next time you see an adult talking...during the playing of the National Anthem--kick their ass") to treacly aphorisms of patriotic/religious uplift ("remember only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ...and the American Soldier").Now, sad to say, even though laboring daily for conservative causes, the only forwards my email in-box seems to see are those from Media(aboutHilliary)Matters and Bill Richardson. This is an affront I want to see corrected. Who's the person in charge of this "smear machine"?
As a conservative writer who's prone to ask questions, I'm proud to be a pawn, a tool of the oppressor, a running jackal and a smear artist. I just wish the head smear merchants would show a little love and put me on their list. If I'm going to be in a conspiracy, I'd like to get in on the conspiring.
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