Tuesday, July 8, 2008

BlogWatch: Hoax Dowd Column Making The Rounds

Updated 7/8/08, 8:50 AM PST (updated text in italics)

There is a hoax column out in the blogosphere purporting to be an expose by Maureen Dowd on Barack Obama’s internet fund raising. Several blogs have reprinted it in toto and it has also appeared on several random message boards. It starts with this:

Published: June 29, 2008

Certainly the most interesting and potentially devastating phone call I have received during this election cycle came this week from one of the Obama’s campaign internet geeks. These are the staffers who devised Obama’s internet fund raising campaign which raised in the neighborhood of $200 million so far. That is more then twice the total funds raised by any candidate in history – and this was all from the internet campaign.
It then goes on to allegedly detail that the Obama campaign has been getting internet contributions from Middle Eastern and Chinese sources.

As far as pastiches go, it makes no effort to imitate Dowd’s style in the least. There are no silly puns, alliteration, movie references, or odd nicknames. It’s just pure unsubstantiated allegations of campaign fraud.

None of the blogs provide a direct link to the hoax column. If they have a link at all, it’s to the NYT Maureen Dowd main page which obviously doesn’t include this column. The date of the fake column would have been the day the 'It’s Over Lady!’ column was published which had nothing to do with Obama or campaign financing.

What has us at Dowd Central scratching our head is that if you want to plant phony accusations at Obama, why attach Maureen Dowd’s name to it? For a fake veneer of authenticity, it seems to be a puzzling choice. Krugman as the resident Clinton supporter and the far wonkier number cruncher would have been a more plausible target.

The earliest source I could find for the hoax column is a June 29 post on a reader blog at the Arizona Republic website. The writer is unaffiliated with the newspaper and has been getting a lot of commenter pushback. It has also been posted by a particularly scurrilous anti-Obama site that published it on July 3rd, but this phony column has probably been around before that. The blogs that have reprinted it usually put in one or two lines of introduction or commentary but make no attempt to even verify if such a column even exists.

Hypocricy Rules does identify it as a hoax. Another blog, Liberal Common Sense also calls “Bullshit!” in a post correctly if not succinctly titled 'Like Maureen Dowd would write anything anti-Obama':
If you needed proof that people will believe anything without doing any fact checking here is your evidence:

{fake column snipped}

Seriously people, there are enough reasons to not support him based on the truth that you should at least do your homework before posting crap like this on the internet, it's not that difficult to take a few seconds to verify that not only did Maureen Dowd not write this, but it's not true.
But the bloggers who are passing this around uncritically (Indy's Conservative Hardball has since retracted the post) and pasting it into the comments of places like Free Republic don’t care. They just love that a liberal bastion like Dowd is blasting Obama, whether she really did or not.

Sometimes a story is just too good to check and rumors circle the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.

See this post for an update.


Anonymous said...

Do you have anyone on staff who has passed high school English?

Lisa Renee said...

Thanks for your post, I think it's important no matter how we feel about a candidate that we need to make sure that false stories like this are pointed out. It always disturbs me when blogs don't double check stories, especially one like this one that was making some pretty outlandlish claims.

yellojkt said...


Are you volunteering? Please feel free to pass on positive suggestions.

Anonymous said...

I worked for Obama's campaign until yesterday.
We released this fake Dowd article to take the wind out of the truth.
Many of the under 200 dollars donations are coming from the Middle East, China, Germany and Australia. Donors do not have to verify their US citizenship with such a small donation amounts.
It would be hard to prove wrongdoing by the campaign though, because they are allowed to lump all the smaller donations together and report only bare information.

Mo MoDo said...

The only reason the above comment is being allowed to stay is because it is yet another example of the clumsy disinformation being trolled out there. I don't believe it any more than I did the original hoax column.