Friday, July 11, 2008

Dowd Hoax Update

I'm proud to have played even a small part in the exposing of a fake Maureen Dowd column that has been circulating around the internet for the past week or two. Eventually this grass roots whisper campaign against Obama in the name of Dowd has been exposed by the mainstream internet organizations.

The PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter is feature of the St. Petersburg Times that ran an excellent summary of the story and quoted yours truly copiously:

Dowd fans spot a fraud: Column had no movie references

Dowd fans were quick to see the column didn't have the writer's unique voice.

"As far as pastiches go, it makes no effort to imitate Dowd’s style in the least," wrote someone named Mo MoDo on The Dowd Report, a blog that tracks the columnist's work. "There are no silly puns, alliteration, movie references, or odd nicknames. It’s just pure unsubstantiated allegations of campaign fraud."
They even named me ahead of their interview with Dowd herself:
Dowd says she hadn't heard of the bogus column until we called her about it. She said she stopped looking herself up on the Internet years ago, after someone showed her a fake photograph of her having sex with Bill Clinton.

She's surprised people believed the column was real. "It’s hard to believe that anybody would give it any credibility as mine. It’s about money – something I know nothing about."
See, Dowd herself agrees with me that Krugman would have been the better choice.

The Huffington Post also got Maureen on the record denying it.
A comically absurd Barack Obama smear email is making the rounds right now involving a fabricated column by famed New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. The email, presented as a June 29 op-ed (replete with The Times' font, layout, and Dowd byline)

Dowd herself found the email an exercise in absurdity, not to mention -- quite possibly -- the first time she's been indirectly involved in a smear campaign.


"The line about it being the 'most shocking revelation,' I don't think I've ever said those words, except in a satire. Also, it is about money, which I never write about," she told the Huffington Post. "Sometime you try and protest things you hear about, but sometimes it's just not worth it... It is hard to track down and control these things, and anyone who reads my column knows that this wasn't me. I got to the second line and I knew it wasn't me."
Snarkmasters at Gawker also noted the rather sloppy imitation work.
Well, we gotta admit, the pretend rhetorical question is a kinda nice touch, there. But she's not calling him "O-Bambi" so it's obviously a phony. Also Maureen Dowd does not deal with money, numbers, or objective "facts."
Gawker also jump on Dowd's quote from the HuffPo article:
The best part of the whole thing is the real Dowd, on when she stumbled upon the email: "I got to the second line and I knew it wasn't me." The second line! She couldn't remember the lede from a column from last week?
Methinks Maureen is engaging in a little self-deprecating leg-pulling of her own.

Jossip states that anyone that fell for the hoax is a complete moron. And that the world is full of morons:
...thanks to the “comically absurd” (HuffPo’s words) email’s well-executed mock up of an actual Dowd column, complete with the Times‘ font and her byline, people on the receiving end of this email might actually believe it. And as HuffPo thought to do, clicking on over to the Times website to see if the column is for real isn’t an extra step most recipients would take

That’s why these smear email campaigns work..

Like spam, they’re very easy to fabricate and send, and even if a tiny percentage of recipients believe them — an herbal supplement really can increase my size by two inches? — they prove effective.

So while everyone playing a game of political inside baseball can wave their finger at the email and feel good about how they so easily flagged it as a fake, rest assured many Americans won’t.
And Jossip is dead right here. The phony column still appears even if it is quickly hooted down. Here is a heavily abridged transcript of a forum thread at RightNation.US:

USNRETWIFE (Jul 9 2008, 01:21 PM): More Obama financing subterfuge from our NWO friends from afar
{phony column snipped}

ilja (Jul 9 2008, 01:31 PM): Did Maureen Dowd really write this? Why is it not in the Times if she did? This is wild if it's true. I can't wait to hear more.

USNRETWIFE (Jul 9 2008, 01:40 PM): My mother sent it to me in an email. I searched it out as I didn't want to just post an email and I found it at the Vetern's Voice. I'd like to know more about this too.

catpat (Jul 9 2008, 01:44 PM): This is a hoax. I do not know how to do links so here are a couple url's: {links snipped}

USNRETWIFE (Jul 9 2008, 01:21 PM): Thank you.

And other bloggers are getting tired of it. Ed Cone (who seems like a pretty responsible pundit) called "Enough!":
Gentle readers: Please take the hooks out of your mouths and stop sending me the fake June 29 Maureen Dowd column purporting to reveal that Obama is being funded by the Chinese and other bogeymen.

The real Maureen Dowd is bad enough.
Since many of these people that have passed along this e-mail defend themselves with how "authentic" the e-mail looked, Ed Cone was nice enough to forward it to me it as it appeared. Here is a screen capture (click to embiggen):

An embedded NYT logo, Dowd's photo, and two links that don't actually go to the column being quoted are all it takes to dupe dozens and perhaps hundreds of gullible Obama haters. For future reference, this is what you see when you get forwarded a real column from the Times:

No pictures or logos, but lots of links and ads. Note that as of this morning, Dowd's column from Sunday (which was mostly transcribed relationship advice) is still in the Top 5 E-Mailed list. This may be why she is such a tempting target to spoofers.

Since I published my blogpost, I have been getting tons of traffic from Indy Conservative Hardball who had instantly retracted the hoax and replaced it with this:
It's great to see that a liberal columnist like Dowd has her groupies... or desk jockey's that have nothing better to do with their time but as to scan the Net for any mention of their "patron saint".

To my readers, I apologize for the posting...
To the guys at the Dowd report who had a post up defending Dowd within 27 MINUTES of my posting, thanks for the link. And thanks for the somewhat increased traffic.
No, THANK YOU. My traffic over the past few days has gone up by an order of magnitude. While much of it has come from ICH, an increasing percentage is from YahooMail accounts and similar tough to trace sources. My working theory is that as this hoax column continues to make the rounds of habitual e-mail forwarders, those in the know are replying back with refuting links, including mine.

These hoaxes circulate surreptitiously forever spreading half-truths and lies which people read and believe. The best disinfectant is the bright light of the truth, so please expose and rebut this malicious abuse of the name and reputation, such as it is, of Maureen Dowd.

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