What We're Up Against.
I just finished a much-too-long exchange on another message board regarding the "truth" of a slur against Kerry. This was not a political board, but as you may imagine in an election year, people have strong opinions. In any case, my task was to try to convince a poster that John Kerry was not personally credited by retired Vietnamese General Giap for rescuing the north from certain defeat.
The claim: General Giap wrote in a 1985 Memoir of the war that if it were not for John Kerry and the VWVAW undermining the US "will to win", north Vietnam would have had to surrender.
1. A February FoxNews article quoting Col. Oliver North, "the Foxnews historian", in the third person
as making this assertion.
2. A later article by NewsMax quoting FoxNews.
3. Later articles by both NewsMax and FoxNews, quoting Giap and other retired Vietnamese military regarding the US anti-war movement in general, but weaving Kerry's name into the articles-even though the quotes didn't mention him, or claim that the North needed
the anti-war movement to win.
4. A Usenet poster who claimed to have "seen the memoir". He failed to respond (since May 5) to a request for substantiating information.
I pointed out that there was:
1. No title or publisher mentioned anywhere in any of these stories.
2. A Google search turns up books by Giap, but nothing remotely fitting the date or description of the "memoir".
3. Further searching revealed that all
references to this story flow back to the unsourced, third person "quote" of Col. North.
4. NewsMax and FoxNews just kept quoting their articles back and forth, in an "echo chamber" effect.
So what? The posters on this relatively "unpolitical" board believe that where there's smoke, there's probably fire. The typical response: "With so many sources, there must be something to it". Karl Rove knows this, and counts on it. We've seen an unprecedented level of lies coming from the Bush campaign so far this year, and it's only going to get worse. It doesn't matter if they get refuted; it only matters that they get air time.
Most people who aren't paying close attention will hear the lies, hear the refutations and think, "Where there's smoke, there's probably fire". This is going to get so