Friday, April 08, 2011

At play with the tabloids

Anybody want to start a pool on how long it takes this one to work its way up to the Fox front page?

That shouldn't be an entirely fanciful question, given Fox's fondness for picking up fabrications from the qualoids (under the guise of "it is being reported ..."). Here's what such a report looks like:

He has been plagued with questions and doubts concerning his background throughout his first term as President.

Questions like -- is Barack Obama actually American? Is he a Muslim? Is he actually an alien from another planet? -- have frequently been asked.

The next question circulating on the internet -- has President Obama had brain surgery?

"Circulating on the internet." Wonder which themes will emerge next!

... Some conspiracy theorists claim they are scars that you would see on someone who has had brain surgery.

But without medical records (along with his school records and birth certificate) no one seems to be able to provide an answer as to the cause of the mystery scars.

Sounds like it's time for an expert opinion!

Ben Hart, a blogger for Escape The Tyranny a website which presents itself as a Social Network & Forum For Conservatives, said:  'Obama's almost done with his first term, and we still know almost nothing about the background of the President of the United States.

'Whatever happened to create that scar, it was clearly something serious. Was it a brain operation? Has it affected his thinking?

'No one is allowed to see his birth certificate. He is just one big mystery man, which adds intrigue to what that huge scar is all about.'

The question-begging, I think, is really the core of this style. Here it is in its purest form, in a cutline with one of the article's file photos:

The 'scar' seen from another angle. One blogger says the surgery might explain why the President has, on occasion, got lost speaking without a teleprompter.

That answers the hed's "has the President had brain surgery?" pretty clearly, I'd say. Of course (hey, it's journalism, so you can't just make stuff up), the teleprompter part is supported in the text:

He also said that surgery might explain why the President gets lost speaking without a teleprompter, and posted a video of Obama struggling through a speech, repeating his words and getting lost mid-sentence.

"Surgery might explain" is still speculation; "the surgery might explain," on the other hand, is pretty specific.* But by the time you've pointed that out, or suggested that Obama doesn't "get lost" more often than other presidents or pretty much any other speaker, the Mystery Scar is sneaking toward being accepted journalistic fact -- the sort of thing you can refer to as true because, nobody's stopped you yet:

Millions of dollars have allegedly been spent trying to ensure that it is not released to the public, not even the Hawaiian governor has access to it.

It's easy to make colonial customs look quaint or bizarre to the home audience; for all the Mail reader knows, we fought a four-year civil war over whether governors should or shouldn't have access to individual birth certificates.** I'd almost rather they just went ahead and made fun of us.

Anyway: Coming soon to a theater near you!

* As Tom Baker once put it: "Not a doctor, the doctor. The definite article."
** For the record, no. But that's why the Fourteenth Amendment makes us drive on the right side of the road.


Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

"The very definite article", hee hee.

Anyway, I think he's probably got a little alien guy inside his head driving his cyborg body.

1:03 AM, April 09, 2011  

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