The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Sarah Palin and the anatomy of an email hoax

Posted by Bill Nance on September 9, 2008

Mark Kleiman has reveals the anatomy of an email hoax.

This latest one is a manufactured concoction over the Sarah Palin book-banning issue. That the email is not authoritative is obvious from the text itself if you read it carefully. But I’ll let Mark explain:

The [t]ext below seems to be going around as a chain email. I got it from someone I’ve never heard of, who had gotten it from someone else and forwarded it to an email list.

“The following is a list of books that Sarah Palin tried to get banned when she was mayor of Wasilla. I am not sure that Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, Maya Angelou and Geofrey Chaucer would be considered dangerous to children. Judy Blume give me a break. Harry Potter, who is kidding who. I also fail to see why Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff should be banned.This information is taken from the official minutes of the Wasilla Library Board.
When the librarian refused to ban the books, Palin tried to get her fired.”
There follows a long list (at the jump) including the first four Harry Potter books.

Now shall we count up all the ways this has to be fraudulent?

  1. It has no source. “The official minutes of the Wasilla Library Board” is a typical viral-nonsense pseudo-source. A real record would have a date, and perhaps a list of board members. It would also come from someplace (e.g., a newspaper) or have the name of the person who claims to have seen the original record, with some explanation of how.
  2. “Official” sets off alarm bells; what other sorts of minutes are there?
  3. Is there actually a “Wassila Library Board”? If there is, it doesn’t show up on the city’s website. There’s a “Library Steering Committee,” a temporary outfit with only advisory functions; there’s a non-profit group called “Friends of the Wassila Library;” it has a board, but no official power. That’s not proof positive that there was no board from 1996 to 2004 when Sarah Palin was Mayor, but it sure raises some doubt.
  4. The existence of a list seems inconsistent with the news stories about Mayor Palin’s asking the head of the library about banning books, which claim that the inquiry was general and never got around to specific books. Again, not an air-tight case, but by now your fraud antennae should be humming.
  5. Those stories do, however give us a date: around 1996, when Palin was first elected. And that, in turn, gives us a smoking gun: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was first published in 2000.

Bless him, Kleiman is one of my favorite bloggers for several reasons, but one of the big ones is that he has integrity. I’m not always in agreement with him. He is a lot more directly partisan than anything you’re likely to find on this blog. But then again he makes no pretense to be anything other than what he is.

Folks, that’s called integrity  -and honor. Are you listening Kossacks? Yeah, that’s the reason I don’t have you on the blogroll. I don’t trust you. And you hurt the very causes you claim to support because you play right into the hands of cynics like Steve Schmidt who hold you out as typifying “liberals.”

And just for the record my knee-jerk Republican-voting friends, this is also the difference between your candidate and the Obama campaign. I admit to the possibility that Obama may not be “all that,” but McCain and company have shown beyond doubt that they are already liars. Their entire campaign has been based on almost nothing but lies. Do you really think they’re going to suddenly change when they get to the White House?

UPDATE: The email referred to in this article was indeed a hoax, but the book banning story is absolutely true. see here for details.

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One Response to “Sarah Palin and the anatomy of an email hoax”

  1. […] written before about the email hoax that was going ’round the Intarwebs on this subject, and ABC faithfully reported those were a […]

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