The Duncan Banner

Opinion

October 28, 2012

Modern version of ‘Telephone’ blurs the truth

DUNCAN — A couple weeks ago, I stopped at a popular morning spot to get a caffeine infusion and encountered a meeting of a chapter of the Coffee Club Geniuses of America.

One of the guys said he’d gotten a group email from a club member who was absent that day. In a serious tone, the fellow explained it was a call to rally against President Barack Obama and an action he’d taken.

The transgression Obama supposedly committed was to force Fox News to cancel broadcast of a program it planned to air the next evening. The speaker said Obama and his henchmen at the FCC pulled the plug on the show Sean Hannity created, which would prove every negative thing you’ve heard about Obama was true.

According to the email and the coffee club pontificator, Hannity’s far-reaching research found Obama was: a Muslim, an illegal immigrant, a friend and supporter of the SDS and other far left groups, a Kremlin-trained Marxist and a surrogate of Iran, who will confiscate every privately-owned gun in the U.S.

Other club members were dutifully outraged. The speaker proclaimed, “This president — if that’s what ya call him — has to go, by any means necessary.” And a half-dozen heads nodded in agreement.

Thing is: The Coffee Club Genius was absolutely wrong about the Obama administration silencing Hannity, just as the email blast was completely bogus. It was another of those button-pushing fabrications that fill email mailboxes all over the USofA.

The urban legend about Fox and Hannity being muzzled first appeared in 2009. Since then, Fox and Hannity have consistently denied any such documentary was produced or scheduled for broadcast. Fact-finding websites like Snopes.com and urbanlegends.com have deemed the film and the notion the Obama administration silenced Fox to be total fabrication.

And the fibbing cuts both ways. According to Snopes.com and urbanlegends.com, Mitt Romney’s grandfather never ran a polygamist Mormon sect in Mexico. Nor did Romney ever said, “I was too important to go to Vietnam. I had a greater purpose in life.”

But this is how it is in the Modern Age. When it comes to politics and social issues, facts just get in the way; truth is an annoyance that clutters up what some people want to believe.

It’s as though a growing number of Americans are locked in a game of “Telephone”; you know, the party game that’s also called “Broken Telephone,” “Whisper Down the Line” and “Gossip.”

In “Telephone,” the first player whispers something to a neighboring player and each subsequent player whispers their interpretation on down the line. By the time the final player reveals what they were told, it sounds nothing like the original statement.

The game can be fun, but “Telephone” is also a metaphor for how inaccuracies, partial truths and flat out lies spread and eventually are accepted as fact.

In the public forum, “Telephone” is no party game. When it’s mixed with the Internet, political spin doctors, intensely partisan media talking heads and a populace that’s angry and frightened, it leads to wild hyperbole, character assassination and total disregard for truth.

“Telephone” has become a propaganda tool, and a lot of Americans are swallowing it hook, line and sinker.

A few days ago, I went to the Snopes.com website, clicking first on the “Politics” page and then on the icon for “Barack Obama.” What unfurled were 122 entries about the current president that Snopes.com has investigated. In the mix were previously mentioned things about Obama — and much more.

Of the 122 entries, the Snopes.com folks determined 106 were either “completely wrong” or “partially wrong.” Breaking it down a little more, 85 were deemed “completely wrong” and 21 were “partially wrong.” (Just for the record, “completely wrong” or “partially wrong” are just another way of saying “lies.”)

Snopes.com isn’t alone, there are other authenticity sites and groups checking out the validity of emails and Internet postings regarding politicians, prominent individuals, social and political issues, etc. Most report a majority of the emails and factual postings they investigate turn out to be lies.

Seems there’s a whole network of balderdash out there circulating as truth, and that’s a dangerous game of “Telephone” for any society to play.

jeff.kaley@duncanbanner.com

580-255-5354, Ext. 172

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