Thursday, November 08, 2007

"Please Forward This Smear"

PR Watch points to The New Right-Wing Smear Machine in The Nation describing how email forwarding has become a pursuasive political tool. I can't speak with authority because I live in the South and my peers are mostly the kind of people who participate in this kind of "smear forwarding." Consequently, emails forwarded to me fit perfectly the descriptions listed in the article. There must be networks and/or communities in which left-wingers forward emails smearing their conservative brothers and sisters...but I'm not aware of any.

The smear forward has its roots in two distinct forms of Internet-age communication. First, there's the electronically disseminated urban legend ("Help find this missing child!"; "Bill Gates is going to pay people for every e-mail they send!"), which has been a staple of the Internet since the mid- '90s. Then there's the surreal genre of right-wing e-mail forwards. These range from creepy rage-filled quasi-fascist invocations ("The next time you see an adult talking...during the playing of the National Anthem--kick their ass") to treacly aphorisms of patriotic/religious uplift ("remember only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ...and the American Soldier").

For a certain kind of conservative, these e-mails, along with talk-radio, are an informational staple, a means of getting the real stories that the mainstream media ignore. "I get a million of them!" says Gerald DeSimone, a 74-year-old veteran from Ridgewood, New Jersey, who describes his politics as "to the right of Attila the Hun." "If I forwarded every one on, everyone would hate me.... I'm trying to cut back. I try to send no more than two or three a day. I must get thirty or forty a day."

Mike D'Asto, a 29-year-old assistant cameraman living in New York, received so many forwards from his conservative father he started a blog called, where he shares them with other unwitting recipients. "I suddenly have connected to all these people who receive these right-wing forwards from their brothers-in-law," D'Asto told me. "Surprisingly, a very large number of people receive these."

1 comment:

vietnamcatfish said...

My sister sends out the e mails-the forwarded variety. She never sends them to me because we have different ideologies.

Perhaps I should have her send you some. She isn't too computer savvy, however, ( must be because she once hailed from the South ) so you might never receive any.