Michelle Malkin vs. Obama’s Dog

There’s a certain fellow sharing my last name, apparently a distant relative though I’d never heard of him until a few months ago, who just loves to send email. Every day. Sometimes I’ll get five or six a day, forwards of forwards of forwards. Almost all of them contain nutty rumors, vicious smears or childish jokes about one or more persons named Obama. He evidently assumes that (a) I actually enjoy reading such stuff, and (b) I can’t get it anywhere else.

I’ve actually read a few of these to see if they’re as idiotic as they appear. They are. Most are too silly even to comment on, but a few possess the added distinction of mind-blowing stupidity. The other day, he sent me the one about President Obama’s dog; and this one, I just can’t resist.

You may have heard about the Prez’s pooch already. The story has gained traction thanks to the blog of Michelle Malkin, one of an endlessly breeding army of vitriolic pundits who get paid handsomely for ignoring whatever brain cells and scruples they own. You may recall that Malkin impugned the patriotism of those who dared question Arizona’s so-called immigration law – apparently not realizing that under its provisions, she herself could be detained as a suspected illegal because she “looks foreign”.

According to a post on her blog (she didn’t write it herself, but it bears her stamp of approval), the Obama family took a vacation to Maine and the first mutt, Bo, was flown on his own plane. Oh, the shame of it – wasting all that money when banks and oil companies are hurting so much. Accordingly, the right-wing blogosphere went apeshit, and the emails have been flying furiously ever since.

As with many Internet rumors, there is less to this story than meets the eye. And as with many bits of popular fiction, it resonates in part because it’s based on actual events. The Obamas really did take a vacation to Maine. And Bo really did fly on a separate plane. But the key word here is separate. He did NOT fly on his OWN plane. It was a plane that was already being used to transport White House staffers. Landing at an airport too small to accommodate a large plane, the presidential party traveled in two smaller ones instead.  Transporting the canine did not, contrary to Malkinoid rumor, entail any added expense. And the suggestion that it did betrays, at best, an utter lack of research.

This rumor is especially instructive because it illustrates how drastically a fact can be altered by omitting or changing just a word or two – and that’s a tack you’ll  see polemicists using over and over again. Take a perfectly accurate statement like “Michelle Malkin blew it on Obama’s dog.”  We could Malkinize it by omitting just two brief words and end up with “Michelle Malkin blew Obama’s dog.”  Interpreted in one way, this claim would imply an action that we could neither verify nor discredit. Yet read another way, it’s just a condensed version of the original statement, and so is still perfectly true – which makes it more accurate than the Malkinized story about Bo. So hey, why not forward it to everyone on your contact list.

But while rumors often get started with an omission, they tend to get embroidered with  new details as they gain momentum.  The version of the shaggy dog story that landed in my inbox, for instance, included the explanation that Muslims consider dogs unclean. (And we all know that Obama is a Muslim/socialist/NAZI/terrorist/atheist/Kenyan/Anti-Christ.) Similarly, one might embroider the Malkin rumor with the observation that some Asians find dogs very tasty.

Whenever  I hear from my distant relative, I can’t help thinking of him as a useful idiot. I know, it’s not nice to call people names. But the phrase isn’t mine, it’s a very old coinage (falsely attributed to Lenin) to describe a gullible person whose passions are easily aroused to serve a manipulator’s cause. The Malkinizers have a cause of promoting bigotry, and they have no shortage of useful idiots to do their bidding. Combating the misinformation they spread online is like taking on a whole nest full of hydras.

For my part, when it comes to taking the word of Michelle Malkin, or taking the word of Obama’s dog, I’ll take Bo any day.

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4 thoughts on “Michelle Malkin vs. Obama’s Dog

  1. Pingback: Science Deniers, Flat Earthers and the Modern Galileo | The Propaganda Professor

  2. I’ve been noticing the omission of certain words in posts populating the conservative news blogs trying to discredit the FBI’s 2014 study of “active shooter incidents.” Apparently even though the FBI clarified that definition in its introduction to the study, right wing pundits virtually filled google with “I told you so” kinds of comments, which include the allegation that President Obama was deliberately ordering the FBI to do false research before the 2014 mid-term elections? These pundits also try to imply that two of the studies authors have publicly lamented that they were mistaken about mass shootings increasing—primarily because the FBI’s study is (admittedly) involved only with analyzing active shooter events—which are not the same as mass shootings–as the FBI quickly makes abundantly clear? I have also done extensive web research trying to discover just where two of the studies authors, make a definite and unmistakable lament of this kind. but apparently the most I can find are claims that they “INDIRECTLY,” made such a false evaluation–no doubt due to their own offensive admission that their research was not perfect?

    It seems that the right wing frequently jumps on any story it can that might be interpreted as a “gotcha” moment discrediting liberals. The only problem is that soon the google hits which come up in searches, show pertinent words and phrases that might affirm their accusation, written in faint print and behind lines crossing them out. Am I right to assume that this is Google’s assertion of a conscience once they find that many of these allegations are actually bogus and slanderous? Still it truly speaks to the power and influence that can be bought with Citizens United and an corp of “journalistic” liars ready to use unlimited funds to virtually exhaust any available and usable space on google—the moment the most recently available piece of deliberately crafted misinformation is available.

    When we allow political parties the use of virtually inexhaustible financial resources, how wonderful and apparent is becomes that such funds are NOT being used in a corrupt manner–agree with that statement in the way Fox news would want you to, and I’ll gladly give you a great deal on the Brooklyn bridge!

  3. Pingback: Fake Fake News, Real Fake News and Fake Real News | The Propaganda Professor

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