28 December 2012

FactCheck Reviews a Year of OIP Derangement Syndrome

FactCheck.org just released its list of “The Worst Viral Emails of 2012,” those messages sent around by political rumormongers and conspiracy theorists.

As usual in the regular American media, the article works very hard to create a balance of left and right, starting its bullet points with “Dueling graphics on the debt both overstated and understated President Obama’s contribution to the debt.”

But after that, there’s only one more example of a viral email from the left, about Tagg Romney being part-owner of a firm that made electronic voting machines.

Every other example in the article—sixteen in all, or eight times as many—came from the right. Examples from FactCheck:

  • No, Obama didn’t give Alaskan islands to Russia, and his early records weren’t “sealed.”
  • Over-the-top “death panel” claims about the Affordable Care Act included purely invented stories about elderly Americans being denied dialysis or brain surgery.
  • In the tin-foil-hat category, one conspiracy said Obama was creating martial law and a “standing army of government youth.” The adult-aged FEMA Corps members help with natural disasters and can’t carry weapons.
  • General Motors is still firmly based in the U.S., despite claims that it’s becoming “China Motors.”
This pattern matches what I found by looking at rumor-checking on Snopes.com in 2010 and again this February.

The FactCheck report notes how the modern American right creates and spreads these lies much more often than the left:
Much of what we’ve seen lambasts the president, or Democrats. It’s to be expected that whoever is sitting in the White House would bear the brunt of online discontent. But we can’t give a definitive reason for why the viral chatter is more conservative in nature.
It’s not just “viral chatter,” of course. It’s outright lies from people who don’t respect the truth. It’s an epidemic of OIP Derangement Syndrome.

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