Felony Spin Case Study and Integrity Disgrace Award
A Most Unfortunate Integrity Disgrace Award
It is with a truly sad and heavy heart that I must give my latest Integrity Disgrace Award to the party of such profoundly respected presidents as Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. I feel I have no choice but to give this award to the Republican National Committee and the McCain-Palin 2008 campaign organization for having employed strategies that incite assassination.
I will say more about this toward the end of this post, but first allow me to present the evidence, expose the spin, and provide one of my integrity analyses. Following these sections I will summarize my rationale for having felt like I had no choice but to give this award to these two organizations.
The Republican National Committee in conjunction with McCain-Palin 2008 have started sending "robocalls" (phone calls placed by a computer and playing a recording) to voters in a number of states in the U.S.
The message these calls continue to propagate allegations from Senator McCain and his Vice Presidential running-mate, Governor Sarah Palin, that Senator Obama is or has been closely tied with U.S. terrorists such as William Ayers.
At the same time, a mailer containing the same allegations was sent to voters.
The Spin and the Spin Busting
Listen below to the audio of the call the RNC and McCain-Palin 2008 have been sending to voter telephones. Then do your spin-busting homework by clicking on the fact-checking pages I have provided beneath it.
Here are two well-documented fact checking links about this allegation from two of my favorite nonpartisan fact checking organizations:
This is a text book example of what I call Felony Spin in my Spin Busting Secrets post.
But, wait. There’s more to this campaign. The RNC also just released a four page pamphlet positioned to propagandize even the most well-intended people who do not take the time to separate fact from spin. Check it out below and then continue reading following these graphics:
The launch that is mentioned was for Obama’s initial run for the Illinois state senate. Back in 1995, Ayers did host a small gathering for Obama and then-State Sen. Alice Palmer in 1995 as Obama planned to run for the seat Palmer was vacating.
How did this come to pass? Obama and Ayers both both volunteered at two different charities at that time: the Woods Foundation and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. One crucial piece of information the slanderous document above conveniently omits is that the Annenberg Foundation, which funded the Annenberg Challenge, was founded and funded by a highly regarded Republican who was an U.S. Ambassador, among other prominent governmental roles.
Refer back to the fact-checking articles I provided you with links to further above.
Fact checking turns up no indication that Ayers and Obama are "palling around" in the present either, nor that they have had some sort of ongoing relationship in at least the past three years, if not longer. There is also no fact-checked information to suggest that Ayers has been involved in terrorist activity since he was released from jail many years ago, or that other Obama associates might be involved in terrorist activities.
Regarding the "social circle" phrase, Obama and Ayers do live in the same neighborhood. So what, exactly, does the "social circle" this Felony Spin document refers to mean? Asked another way, how many community barbeques have you attended with neighbors you don’t ordinarily socialize with, don’t agree with or don’t even like?
Dr. Gruder’s Integrity Analysis
In point of fact, Senator McCain had far closer ties with bank crook Charles Keating than Senator Obama had with William Ayers. This scandal put Senator McCain in significant ethical hot water in Congress. Keating ultimately went to jail for perpetrating perhaps the most costly bank fraud in American history.
In psychological terms, fabricating a meaningful current link between Obama and Ayers is a classic case of projection in which McCain’s operatives are trying to manipulate the public into attributing to Obma a level of affiliation with profoundly evil corruption that Senator McCain maintained with Charles Keating until the Senate Ethics committee finally exposed this connection.
What’s the point I’m trying to make? The Keating affair is old history and I do presume that Senator McCain grew wiser as a result of having consorted with as ill-intended a man as Keating. Similarly, the far less involved Obama-Ayers connection is old history not recent history. Again, I presume that Senator Obama has grown wiser since his similarly long-past and far-less-close encounters with Ayers.
Next, I want to point your attention to the layout of the document above. It has been visually designed to give the appearance of being a compliation of credible journalistic articles. Notice that the only citation provided in the piece is the expose of Ayers. Now, notice that his Pittsburgh Tribune-Review excerpt has nothing at all to do with Obama — or with the rest of the pages in this mailing.
Consider this: What lie are you being manipulated into believing through this? You are being led to believe that all of this information appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. You are thus being manipulated into believing that this entire story has been "vetted" (that is, that its credibility has been established), when in fact this is a profoundly dangerous propaganda ploy.
Propaganda 101 and Felony Spin
So, do you see how Felony Spin works? Lie by omission. Build false credibility by association. Repeat profoundly inflammatory lies often enough, and through seemingly credible mailings and phone calls, so that the lie eventually is perceied as truth. This is Felony Spin at its most vicious.
This repeat-offender multi-pronged Felony Spin on the part of the RNC’s and McCain-Palin 2008’s attempts to manipulate citizens into believing that "Senator Obama has worked closely with William Ayers." This can have only one purpose: to manipulate listeners into believing that the dubious allegations the Obama has an "extreme leftist agenda" and that he must "lack the judgment to lead the country" (these are direct quotes from the "robocalls" you listened toward the beginning of this post.
So, once again, here is the first rule of Propaganda 101: repeat a lie often enough and it ultimately is perceived as the truth.
No matter who you support for president, I urge you to ask yourself:
- "Why would the Republican National Committee and McCain-Palin 2008 be trying so boldly and vigorously to manipulate citizens into believing a lie like this?"
- "What are they trying to manipulate me into believing about Senator Obama if they left me a phone message like this one?"
- "What does it say about the integrity of the RNC and McCain-Palin 2008 that they would try to manipulate me into believing these lies about Senator Obama?"
- "Do the ends (getting Senator McCain elected president) justify the means (using this kind of repeat-offender Felony Spin to try to get him elected)?"
Why, according to the independent Wisconsin Advertising Project, "nearly 100%" of Senator McCains ads have been negative since October 1? (They rate the cumulative percentage of negative ads Senator McCain has run at 73% and the cumulative percentage of negative ads that Senator Obama has run at 61%.)
What are negative ads? They’re mostly propaganda attempts to manipulate the public into falsely deciding that a candidate is seriously flawed, or has evil intentions, when speaking directly about the issues and differences between the candidates does not create the results they are dedicated to bringing about no matter what the cost.
If you have not seen the HBO film, Recount, I believe you have a responsibility as a citizen to watch it before this year’s elections. This movie portrays the extreme extent to which an "ends justifies the means" mentality has been exerting inappropriately overwhelming control over the political process in recent years.
Inventing Misperceptions So Dangerous That They Are Without Precedent
Lastly, and most importantly, consider this: inventing the misperception that Obama and Ayres are buddies is very clearly part of a concerted and deliberate campaign strategy to manipulate the public into believing that Senator Obama is a terrorist-level threat to America. This is the most sinister ends-justify-the-means attempt to influence an election that I have ever seen in the United States during my lifetime. And we’ve already seen some doozies!
Despite the felony spin the RNC and Senator McCain’s operatives are engagining in through the material discussed in this post, Sentator McCain knows full well this is not even remotely true. He has said publicly that he knows Senator Obama to be a decent and well-intended man, including at rallies in which extemist hatred has been expressed about Obama by members of his crowd.
The robocalls and campaign literature discussed in this post contain lies that present a far greater threat to America than you may have considered. They incite baseless hatred and dangerous levels of groundless paranoia. Ultimately, they increase the potential that some ideologically extreme nutcase could attempt to assassinate Senator Obama.
This post was originally written on October 16, 2008. On November 8, an article appeared in London’s Telegraph Newspaper describing how death threats against Obama spiked during the time that coincided with Palin’s "palling around with terrorists" comments during her stump speeches — and the release of the documents I included above. Read the article through the link — it explains why this form of beyond-felony-spin was the most heinous breach of integrity during the 2008 presidential campaign:
Whether it thrills you, disgusts you, or you feel somewhere between these two extremes, there is a distinct possibility that Senator Obama may become the next president of the United States. Should this occur, consider these questions:
- How would it serve this country for someone to become president who is misperceived to be a terrorist threat to his own country?
- How does it serve democracy that this level of extreme propaganda has been resorted to?
An Integrity Disgrace Award Given With a Heavy Heart
For these reasons, above all others, I believe I have no choice but to confer upon the Republican National Commitee and the McCain-Palin 2008 campaign organization one of my Integrity Disgrace Awards. That American politics could have reached this profoundly dangerous a low point, and that this new low has been perpetrated by the Grand Old Party and a formerly straight-talking and across-the-aisle negotiator like Senator McCain, pains me beyond what I have words to express.
I confess that part of me wants to avoid doing this, but I would be out of integrity with my mission to help to spark the integrity revolution our culture so desperately needs if I did not take this step.
So, for having stooped to lower and far more dangerous levels of Felony Spin than could ever be considered healthy or proper in a republic that treasures democracy, the Republican National Commitee and the McCain-Palin 2008 campaign organization are co-recipients of Integrity Revolution’s Integrity Disgrace Award on this, the 18th day of October 2008.
I have watched with disgust and horror as massive amounts of outrageous spin have been engaged in throughout this year’s presidential campaign by both the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, their operatives, and their media pawns. But, the level of spin described in this post goes so far beyond the beyond that enough is enough.
It does not matter whether you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat, a member of another political party, or an independent. It does not matter whether you support McCain, Obama, or someone else for president. This kind of dangerous over-the-top ends-justify-the-means maliciousness has no place in a democracy, even in the far-too-rough-and-tumble world of politics. Freedom of speech does not entitle a political campaign, or anyone else, to engage in defamations of character, especially not for political or personal gain, and especially in ways that foment a level of unwarranted fear and hatred that increase the risk of assassination!
This has got to stop. And the perpetrators in politics and in the media WILL stop. But ONLY if enough citizens like you, from across the entire political spectrum, start demanding that they stop. YOU can help this happen by:
- Telling your own party’s candidates that the more they use this tactic the more they will drive you away from supporting them.
- Demanding of whichever broadcast, print and/or internet media you utilize that they devote more time or space to reporting objective fact checking information and less on pundits whose purpose is to propagandize the public into believing what THEY want the public to believe.
- Voting for whichever of the two main presidential candidates you believe engages in less Felony Spin.
- Voting for whichever candidate in other elections in which you’re voting engages in the less Felony Spin
Democracy is depending on you to take a stand against all political parties and candidates who engage in campaign tactics that wage a war of propaganda against the American people!