Tuesday, June 12, 2012


"if I had people dumb enough to fall for it, I wouldn't be braggin' about it there, Skippy."

In the 2000 election, McCain supporters swore that the Bush team sent out calls that suggested McCain had had a love child by a black woman out of wedlock. They said it was a push poll, a poll that gave this lie, then asked if people would still vote for McCain.

Nobody, anywhere, has been able to offer the slightest shred of evidence this happened. There are no recordings, you can't even find someone who says they got one. The only source I can dig up of this is one woman's claim at a town hall meeting that her son got one. And from there, the story grew. Everyone insists that the calls came from the telemarketing company FLS direct but there's nothing to demonstrate they actually even happened. Just a rumor by one woman, and it grew and grew.

I can't help but think of that when I hear the report that supposedly people got calls on June 5th telling them that they didn't have to vote if they signed the petition to recall Governor Walker in Wisconsin. Again, no recordings, no "I got a call" always someone else, no evidence. Now that Governor walker easily held his office (actually getting more votes to stay in office than he got to win it), the story disappeared. As Ann Althouse notes:
If the calls were real and really made by Walker supporters, the opponents who claimed they got the calls or claimed they heard complaints about the calls would have an interest now in laying out the evidence. The silence is telling.
And several commenters noted that the reason is because Walker won by too much to dispute the election. There's a margin by which a Republican has to win by in order to avoid recount and lawsuits. I don't know what you call this margin, I suggest the "Gregoire Line" because the Washington State 2004 election was the most egregious and extreme example of recount fraud in recent memory. But nobody seems to remember that one.

Was the robocall claim just a set up for crying for recounts? Was it just a lie to make it seem like there were dirty tricks being played, so we have to do a recount since the margin was so slim? Walker made it past the Gregoire Line, so there were no recount cries. And now the robocall story is just gone - after all it makes recall voters sound like idiots, who else would even give that kind of stupid call the slightest credence but a dunce?

But what I want to know is how does some second-hand rumor become national news? How does a story about something you heard happened to someone else, but have no evidence for, become a news item in any source, let alone a respectable, national news organization? Don't you need at least some evidence to put out a news story? Some sort of substantive material support for your report? Or is just "hey, I heard someone say this happened to someone else" enough these days?

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