ACORNization: the New Swiftboating

If you had the misfortune to have been conscious during the 2004 presidential campaign, then you’re certainly familiar with the term swiftboating. In fact, if you’ve had the misfortune to have been tuned into the American media for any length of time since then, you’ve almost certainly heard it; it’s become a permanent fixture in the lexicon.

The expression comes from a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who as you may know, were concerned with anything but truth. Funded by a wealthy Republican donor, their sole objective was to smear Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, a navy veteran and war hero who was posing a threat to unseat George W. Bush.  Though their dishonesty was eventually unmasked, they definitely had an impact on Kerry’s standing with the public, and might well have cost him the election. Thus “swiftboating” came to be used as a new name for the very old practice of bearing false witness.

But now there’s a fresh twist to swiftboating, the doctored video twist. And it’s a twist greatly boosted by one James O’Keefe, who fancies himself a guerrilla “citizen journalist” (translation: he videos people under false pretexts, then reconstructs the videos to make them say whatever he wants). Although the undercover films he has released have been shown to be thoroughly dishonest, they have had a tremendous impact on public discourse and even on official policy. Which just goes to show that there is no limit to the gullibility of the media or the public. Or, for that matter, of politicians.

We’ll call the tactic ACORNization, since ACORN has been its most successful target. Whatever you call it, it’s here to stay. Not only have O’Keefe and his associates been repeating the procedure, but he’s even “training” others to do likewise – as if this kind of unscrupulous amateurishness really required any skill. Get ready, folks: it’s the new face of “journalism”.

 

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