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October 26, 2007

E-Mail Chains

Chris Hayes' article on the power and opacity of political e-mail forwards -- those endless chain e-mails detailing Obama's time in a radical madrassa, or Hillary Clinton's murder of Vince Foster -- is critically important stuff. As Chris writes, "the e-mail forward doesn't fit into our existing model of the right-wing noise machine's structure (hierarchical) or its approach (broadcast). It is, instead, organic and peer-to-peer. If the manufactured outrage over Kerry's botched joke about George Bush's study habits was the equivalent of a Hollywood blockbuster, the Gold Star Mother smear was like one of those goofy viral videos of a dog on a skateboard on YouTube. Of course, some of those videos end up with 25 million page views." Critically, it comes from your friends. Sourcing matters in politics, and these e-mails, though not written by your pal, comes with her stamp of approval, making them instantly more credible to you. But who are they written by? Chris, in a particularly impressive feat of reporting, managed to track down the original author of one. His identity will surprise you.

October 26, 2007 | Permalink


Critically, it comes from your friends. Sourcing matters in politics, and these e-mails, though not written by your pal, comes with her stamp of approval, making them instantly more credible to you.

Well if they keep spamming me with stupid shit they don't stay my friend for long.

Posted by: Fledermaus | Oct 26, 2007 12:45:44 PM


Just an update, apparently Maine is more sane then some people and does not plan to let 11-13 year olds have sex.

"""Portland's school-based health centers have not been reporting all illegal sexual activity involving minors as required by law, but they will from now on, city officials said Thursday.
Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson questioned the health centers' reporting practices after the Portland School Committee decided last week to offer prescription birth control at the King Middle School health center.

Maine law prohibits having sex with a person under age 14, regardless of the age of the other person involved, Anderson said.

A health care provider must report all known or suspected cases of sex with minors age 13 and under to the state Department of Health and Human Services, she said. ""

Obviously they are not quite as enlightened as Ezra who thought 13 was an OK age and one particularly perverse poster who claimed 11 year old girls were the ones requesting an-l intercourse.

Posted by: Patton | Oct 26, 2007 1:11:38 PM

Dogs on skateboards are more intriguing to me than political email forwards. I almost instantly delete any email that is a FWD: from a friend unless it has a funny picture in it.

Posted by: Adrock | Oct 26, 2007 1:18:55 PM

We Dems are so lame. Mouth-breathing Repubs can smear Hitlery 25 million times over, and we can't even get Mickey Kaus's quite-plausibly-truthy goat-semen addiction on page seven of most newspapers' "Living" section.

That does it. I'm voting for Nader.

Posted by: Jamey | Oct 26, 2007 1:47:15 PM

Maine's sex laws have to do with this how???


These email chains are powerful stuff. For some reason, an email that has been forwarded fifty times over strikes some people as the paradigm of factual credibility. They are so confident that they do not even feel the need to do a thirty-second google search to check up on it.

It would be good if we could eradicate them, but it's probably impossible. The next best thing: we should start doing them ourselves. By November 2008, people should have their inboxes full of emails about Giuliani's closet homosexuality.

Posted by: Jason C. | Oct 26, 2007 1:47:42 PM

Can't Patton show even the barest courtesy and refrain from threadjacking?

Posted by: Stephen | Oct 26, 2007 2:01:01 PM

Sorry Stephen, My post had to do with a prior post by Ezra on his last Hardball appearance. i thought it was nice that everyone knew that Maine took a good hard loook and decided to side with the children and not the perverts.

look at it this way, Portland has now been ruled out as a Democrat convention location.

And for the record, I love e-mail chains, I was going to start one about Hillary's illegal Chinese money raising, but it got far too long. You ever notice how the Clintons, when they get in trouble, they head right back to the same bad behavior that got them in trouble before. This is their THIRD run in with pumping poor asians for cash. And all because she needed to outraise Obama in the last quarter. I can see the FBI file raids, the illegal phone call interccepts are right around the corner....

Next your going to tell me that I should pay for the healthcare of an asian dishwasher making minimum wage who has enough disposalble income to stroke a check to Hillary for 1,000 bucks.

Posted by: Patton | Oct 26, 2007 2:19:42 PM

I got a "scary" Blue Mountain card forward this am from a buddy of mine in FL who I'd turn to for homeowners insurance advice but not politics. He likes sending me these things because he knows he's jerking my chain.

The BM "card" was a cartoon video of a bat with it's back to you hanging from a tree flashing a young woman, an old couple and a woman exiting a bus "horrifying" them. The surprise joke at the end is the bat turns around and it's holding a Hillary for president poster.

Seeing as there was the usual chain of addresses in the email I laboriously excerpted the above Nation article for the attention span challenged and plugged in all the addys to the reply except my friend's.

I fight fire with water when I can.

Posted by: markg8 | Oct 26, 2007 3:00:07 PM

Patton, if you care so much, I suggest you start your own weblog rather than crapping on the threads of other topics on other people's weblogs.

My friends -- even the Republican ones -- aren't the sort to send me the e-mail forwards. I'd like to think it's because I associate with a higher class of friends. I suspect that one of my Republican cousins forwards these sorts of e-mails to the more dull-witted Republicans among his employees because he likes to see them get agitated and whipped up into a fury over it the "warnings" embedded in those e-mails.

Posted by: Tyro | Oct 26, 2007 3:56:59 PM

This is the basics of a spiral downwards and it can't be stopped. The tool is too useful, so Republicans won't stop using it. It's largely untraceable, so it can't be meaningfully rebutted. So the Dems will have to follow suit, pouring email smears on the Republican candidates. And the spiral will gain pace.

Posted by: Meh | Oct 26, 2007 5:24:47 PM

Meh, the latest suggestion over at the Washington Monthly blog was that Giuliani be accused of forcing firefighters to dress in drag as accessories in one of Giuliani's many performances.

We could add some spurious quotes from Robert Mapplethorpe about how this helps school children become more comfortable with cross dressing when our leaders participate in it.

Posted by: Tyro | Oct 26, 2007 5:30:34 PM

I used to get these occasionally from my only wingnut friend. I started responding with snopes references; he got all offended, as if assessing the truth or falsity of this shit was somehow insulting to him.

I went on to sending him stuff about Halliburton ripping us off by having drivers send empty trucks back and forth across the desert (he's ex-Navy reserve); he responded with "Stop sending me things like this."

I tried to be good, but every once in awhile I would get so P.O.'d at something I read that I'd put it in an e-mail and drop him a copy, along with the 30 or so liberals and moderates that I spam occcasionally. He would respond with reams of stuff which exhibited such breathtaking illogic, stupidity and smarm, that I just gave up. It wasn't worth it.

I have a mutual friend who maintains the correspondence, and actually goes to the trouble of debunking the guy point-by-point, a course that I just gave up on when all it elicited was counter-arguments even more stupid and illogical than the original messages. I don't heave the energy for that stuff any more.

Posted by: Captain Goto | Oct 26, 2007 5:33:40 PM

"have", that is...though often I *do* feel like throwing up when I think about this kind of nonsense.

Posted by: Captain Goto | Oct 26, 2007 5:35:28 PM

When Patton isn't earning $5.15/hr to troll websites, it composes emails to turn into mass forwards.

(The wingnut chain mails I receive have a path that goes through a former host on MSNBC, fwiw.)

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc | Oct 26, 2007 11:53:58 PM

Patton, if you care so much, I suggest you start your own weblog rather than crapping on the threads of other topics on other people's weblogs.

If he/she/it did that, then he/she/it would just be yet another tenth-tier wingnut blogger.

Trolling Ezra Klein is much more emotionally satisfying.

Posted by: Johnny Pez | Oct 27, 2007 5:07:25 PM

There's one that's been floating around for awhile about how the Secret Service just HATES Hillary, she's a bitch, she's demanding, she's a control freak. Through no fault of her own, it's going to be an extremely ugly campaign season if Hillary is the nominee.

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