Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dissecting the Palin Rumor Mill

The rumors are up to 91!

Pajamas Media » Dissecting the Palin Rumor Mill
In my new and unexpected role as the Pajamas Media answer to Hedda Hopper, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the rumors about Sarah Palin that have appeared in the weeks since John McCain announced her nomination. (The new list is up to 91 and still growing.) Its given me a whole new insight into rumors and how the press responds to them. It seems to be very predictable — and very artificial.

Let’s look at a recent one, #83. The rumor, as it was reported, was that Palin had “cut the Special Olympics funding in half.” Now, here are the facts (and thanks to Warren Throckmorton for digging this out):

* The 2006 budget was $250,000.
* The 2007 budget as passed by the Alaskan legislature was $650,000
* After Palin used her line-item veto authority, the new budget was $275,000

So we see the facts of the story are that it was a “Beltway budget cut”: more money, but not as much as someone wanted. The facts aren’t as interesting as the history of the story, though. It appears to have started, in this case, with the New York Times, which casually says:

Democrats have pointed, sometimes correctly, sometimes erroneously, to items in the state budget for the disabled that Ms. Palin cut. According to state documents, she cut the state’s Special Olympics budget in half.

Step one: assert something in a way that doesn’t stand out.

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