Thursday, April 28, 2011

Obama Feeds the Trolls

There is a well know saying among those who participate in online discussions – Don’t feed the trolls. The trolls are those areshats who go on blogs and twitter etc and sprout bullsh*t just to get those who hold the opposite view to bite. They hate being ignored, and engaging with them never leads anywhere because logic and intelligent discussion is not their game, nor within their ability.

Obama today however decided to feed the trolls and released his “long form birth certificate” r758072_6347120in an attempt to put to be claims he is not American born.

Now when trolls get rebuffed on one set of facts (such as the fact that Obama is actually an American born citizen) they just move to another line of idiocy. Thus did it happen today. Here were some of the comments on the Fox News website:

rebelwuf · So this proves that Obama had dual citizenship at birth, right? His dad was Kenyan, and in 1961 Kenya was still part of the British empire, and children born to male British citizens were automatically British citizens as well. Then he automatically became a Kenyan citizen in 1963, when Kenya became independent. So the (multi) dual citizenship issue should make him ineligible.

Errr. Yeah. I’ll have to try that next time I want to fly to England – Visa? What need I that, I am a British citizen don’t ya know!

deborah2 · Please people enlarge this thing & look at all the x's & numbers hand written on it. What's that all about? Do any of you have anything hand written on your birth cert?

Yes. It’s called a signature.

catwmn79 · A quote from a close associate: "it gets even better. someone just posted (and i just verified on my Adobe Illustrator) that whoever did the layers left graphics on the clipboard that they were cutting and pasting. this was not some automatic layering by software. this was a cut & paste edit."

Yep, he forged it, meaning the Hawaiian Government is also in on the scam...

Now this would all be rather funny, except the trolls are not just people on blogs (ahem) and Twitter, they are in the media.

This idiotic birther story has been around since 2008, but despite Obama releasing what is a perfectly legal birth extract, but the birthers (trolls that they be) moved the goal posts and said the “long form” was the only one that was real proof, and thus demanded he release it.

The media, for the most part ignored the story, because, well it was stupid. But when Troll in Chief, Donald Trump decided his ego wanted to run for President, he decided that the best way to pursue this aim was to go the birther line. Did the media dismiss him with contempt? Did they laugh at him? Hell no. They gave him oxygen – lots of it. So much oxygen in fact that CNN decided to run a segment disproving the whole birther story. The next day however, CNN journalist Ed Henry asked the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, more questions about the birth certificate:

HENRY: Jay, my colleague, Gary Tuchman, just went to Hawaii and established again that there’s evidence suggesting that the President, in fact, was born in the United States. But as you know, Donald Trump persists, other critics, and last night Trump was on CNN saying that he’s been told the birth certificate is missing, that it’s either not there or has been taking out -- taken out somehow, and this is a problem for the President. When the White House hears this continued claim, what does it say?

Well I would have answered that it says that you, Ed Henry, are a complete tool. But then I probably wouldn’t get the job of White House Press Sec.

Today when releasing the certificate, Obama complained that the story was the main one during the week he released the US Budget. Fact checkers around the traps quickly did the maths and worked out it wasn’t. As ABC White House correspondent Jake Trapper says:

But the president was wrong.

According to Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, that week the dominant news story was without question the economy.

The ridiculous claims about the president’s birth certificate actually was the No. 4 story for the week – receiving about one tenth of the coverage devoted to stories about the economy.

Trapper however makes no comment on the fact that a “ridiculous claim” was the No.4 story in America.

I actually don’t care that some journalists are “holding Trump to account”, or that CNN refuted the story. Some things are so stupid they don’t deserve refuting. They don’t deserve being challenged. They deserve being ignored. If some right wing fool in this country for example started saying that Julia Gillard had a child as a teenager, would that deserve being rebuked in the media? Would that deserve her refuting it? Hell no. It would deserved being ignored – as did all the idiotic bullsh*t stories about Sarah Palin’s pregnancy of her child Trig.

Just because someone says something – even if that person is Donald Trump – doesn’t mean it deserves being treated seriously.

The problem is so much journalism (in the US mostly, but here as well) has become “we report, you decide” bulldust that the most ludicrous claim you could just about come up with this side of NASA faked the moon landing, has been treated as though it is a legitimate story. It is the line of journalism that says – oh well we don’t take sides, we just report what is said.

Well now, how about instead you use your brains and realise that this story is complete bullshit, the claims are bullshit, and that Trump is using you?

This morning when it was released Annabel Crabb on Twitter wrote:

Now that Obama has released birth certificate, the new speculation is on why he didn't do it earlier

I’m not sure if Crabb is reporting on the speculating, or if she is speculating herself, but for mine the speculation that really needs to be addressed is why he needed to reveal it at all? Why was the media at all interested in the words of a troll running for President? How do we know Trump is a troll? Well because like the trolls on the Fox News website he doesn’t actually care about facts or proof. When confronted with the proof of the birth certificate, he just moves on:

“The word is, according to what I’ve read, that he was a terrible student when he went to Occidental,” Trump said. “He then gets to Columbia; he then gets to Harvard. … How do you get into Harvard if you're not a good student? Now, maybe that’s right, or maybe it’s wrong. But I don’t know why he doesn’t release his records.”

Sigh. His grades? Give me strength. Obama was President of Harvard Law Review. That is about as hard a position to achieve as there is at Harvard, and they don’t give it out just for looks.

Any journalist who heard Trump say that should have laughed in his face, put away his or her notebook and said to their editor – the guy is a nut. Asking Trump questions – such as what about his previous claims that Obama’s birth certificate might reveal he was a Muslim – are pointless, they only feed the troll.

So why did Obama feed him? Surely he knew that the right-wing nutbags would claim the certificate was a forgery, or that because his Dad is a Kenyan means something blah blah. So why do it?

One theory, that I give some credence, is that the White House did this to keep the story going. Because the more time Trump gets oxygen the less time any “serious” Republican Presidential candidates get to build up a following. And worse (for the Republicans) the more likely those candidates will try to grab some of the airspace by putting forward an equally nutty theory. In effect Obama is using the media’s lust for idiocy to help his own cause.

Trump may play well on TV now, but I bet every night members of the Obama team kneel and pray that Trump will be the Republican Party nominee. Obama would win all 50 states if that were the case.

The second best case is that Trump destroys the Republican Party’s creditability by reducing their whole nomination process to a farce, or even better, he misses out as the candidate, and then runs as an independent. 

Whichever way, Trump in the race is good for Obama. And what better way to keep him in the race than keep the birther issue bubbling away? The proof makes Trump look like a fool, (that is, if you hold store in facts) but it gives him a sense of prominence (his ego is so big, that he takes it as a complement that he has been shown to be a fool).

The problem for all however (including, and especially for Obama) is that this strategy will only ensure that idiotic reporting of idiotic, ridiculous claims will continue, and intelligent advocacy of complex policy will be harder to pursue. That is unless you think the US media will ignore the trolls.

Yeah neither do I.

Obama, by feeding the trolls, has to now live with the consequences – both good, bad and idiotic.

Let Jon Stewart and Steve Colbert put it all in context:


The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
America Needs to See Obama's Report Cards
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

On a related issue – Malcolm Farnsworth today wrote a brilliant piece on The Drum on why he has given up on newspapers. He states my thoughts on the topic almost exactly:

On the whole, though, the Australian newspapers have lost me. They’re drab now. The quality is uneven. The journal of record days are gone. Even the practical reasons for buying a newspaper – finding a job, selling a car, buying a house, checking the TV guide, doing the crossword – have fallen away as the digital alternatives multiply. As sales numbers have fallen and advertising revenue has bled away, Fairfax broadsheets like The Age and the SMH have struggled to maintain a clear sense of identity. Every new re-design seems to produce bigger headings, more pictures, fewer words and more liftouts. By contrast, News Limited’s The Australian maintains a serious demeanour but is increasingly characterised by bizarre preoccupations that cast doubt on its news values.


On a bit of house-keeping, tonight I remembered to check to see if any comments had been caught in the Spam filter. There were 22 stretching back a few weeks. I’m sorry to all those whose comments for whatever reason were caught up in the filter (I have no idea why some get caught - it’s not me – it is a “” thing). I’ll try to remember to check more regularly so that everyone’s comments get posted.

I don’t delete any comments unless they are potentially libellous, or really nasty abuse (a very rare occurrence).

Again apologies to all affected. 


Mr Tiedt said...

I'm really interested in the question of why the democrats released the certificate NOW as opposed to never, or last year, or when the issue first came up.

Your suggestion is a good one, and one I hadn't really considered.

I also read a suggestion earlier today that the democrats were happy to let the republican party get dragged further and further to the loony right on these issues, because the further to the loony right the republicans are dragged, the harder it will be to win states and electoral college votes.

Another good theory is that the democrats were happy to see republican candidates forced to give credence to a theory that now, hopefully, makes them look a little stupid.

But I think your theory makes the most sense. Interesting stuff!

730reportland said...

That thing on his head must be feeding on his brain. Forrest Trump just made himself a goose. An unelectable goose. A dude as wealthy as Donald Gump should have known the Democrats did not give Obama the Party Nomination without checking if he was eligible. The Embedded Media are just proving their the trolls, we call them, and worse.

730reportland said...

Farnsworth, Woodward and Bernstein dance around the fact that the Embedded Media have been serving up junk. Now they complain that the public are mainly interested in junk. Creating their own monster? Donald Gump, Palin, Tea Party are pretty much junk.

denise said...

Now I know what is wrong with Australian journalism, we don't have enough good comedians on TV rubbishing thir stories.

DaveMcRae said...

Mr Tiedt, an extract was produced in 2008 as part of his campaign.

Denise, totally agree - we need an Australian Colbert and/or Stewart.

Grog - I hope you're wrong re consequences. You're saying a possible consequence may be the dumbing down of the media. I'd like to think it's impossible to go further down for Australian or US media.

Anonymous said...

We need more than an Australian Colbert and/or Stewart. We need progressive television and radio networks, progressive newspapers - a progressive media to cater to the millions of progressive Australians.


clarencegirl said...

"deborah2 · Please people enlarge this thing & look at all the x's & numbers hand written on it. What's that all about? Do any of you have anything hand written on your birth cert?"

Er, yeah. The Australian long form original birth certificate that I have is all filled in by hand!
Does that mean that I am stateless according to those U.S. wingnuts?

PB said...

I suspect you are probably right that it's a tactical move to make the Republicans continue to look ridiculous. However, I suspect that the implied hope in "and intelligent advocacy of complex policy will be harder to pursue" is rather naive.The MSM is so completely stuffed that regardless of whether or not he fed the trolls, they would still continue down their path of idiocy. Perhaps Obama's thinking was that since it's inevitable that the Republicans and the MSM are committed to idiocy, why not exploit it? If the Republicans want to show middle-America just how crazy they are, why not let them?

Helen said...

I demand proof that Donald Trump's hair is actually his own!!!!1!1

Sonia said...

Jon Stewart always doing a great job but I think Obama did it best last night at the White House Correspondents dinner. I felt a little sorry for Donald. Well kinda but he had it coming

han said...

I run a newsagency in a conservative Sydney suburb and based on my casual interaction with the predominantly white, male and over 55 customers a significant proportion of Liberal voters believes Julia Gillard is a lesbian, I guess the same proportion of wingnuts in the US who questioned Obama's citizenship. So we are no better than the US in terms of nuttiness.

worrierqueen said...

"One theory, that I give some credence, is that the White House did this to keep the story going."

Great blog Grog. It's pretty obvious now (in hindsight) that Obama was simply setting the Donald up. This line from Obama was particularly telling "we don't have time for this nonsense, I don't have time for this nonsense". We now know why Obama didn't have time for the Donald's nonsense. He had another crazy on his mind at the time.