There you go again

For Your Consideration

Alan CheahAugust 8, 2012 

Last week, Bill Atwood joined the "You didn't build that" chorus misleading Americans to believe Obama resents what small business owners have built.

Mr. Atwood presented very compelling Horatio Alger stories which eloquently support his premise. There's a big problem -- his premise is completely false.

I refer Mr. Atwood and anyone interested in the truth to factcheck.org 2012/07/you-didnt-build-that-uncut-and-unedited/. In fact, when taken in context, Obama praised individuals for building their businesses but emphasized that their success was built on the foundation of an educated workforce, roads, bridges, an electrical grid, sewers, water systems, banking systems, contract law, a court system, government-funded research, government financial aid and police and fire services which protect their properties and possessions.

All this was created by the collective effort and funding of 'all' Americans aka the government. As Warren Buffet, the second richest man in the world put it, "If you stick me down in the middle of Bangladesh or Peru, you'll find out how much this talent is going to produce in the wrong kind of soil."

In the face of this false narrative, the Romney Campaign produced an ad featuring Jack Gilchrist, owner of Gilchrist Metal Fabricating. In it, Gilchrist defiantly mocks Obama's misrepresented words insinuating he built the company on his own with no help from anyone. Is it not apparent that without government built infrastructure, there would be no Gilchrist Metal Fabricating? And get this -- Jack Gilchrist received over $1 million in government help building a business he claims he did on his own thinkprogress.org/election/2012/07/23/570621/romneys-you-didnt-build-that-attack-ad-stars-businessman-who-received-millions-in-government-money/?mobile=nc). There's at least one of these in every election. Remember Samuel "Joe the plumber" Wurzelbacher facing down Obama in the last election claiming he was a small business owner? Not only didn't he own a small business but he wasn't even employed. If character matters, what does this say about the character of those behind this kind of publicity?

In the inimitable words of Ronald Reagan, "there you go again." In J.R. Froehlich's "Reasons for Rage" there is a litany of allegation, innuendo, speculation, insinuation, projection and creative association feeding his rage.

This is like going into an insane frenzy over something you read in the National Enquirer tabloid. Obama was spawned by aliens to take over America then the world. Don't believe it? Look at his ears. See the resemblance to some aliens you've seen on TV? Save America before it's too late.

Froehlich's opinion, however, is not entirely without merit when he said, "government donates more than $338 billion of our tax dollars each year to illegal alien causes from their cradles right on through their prison terms." That is, until you actually research that claim. Factcheck.org www.factcheck.org/2009/04/cost-of-illegal-immigrants) said, "A chain e-mail that makes this claim is loaded with errors and misleading assertions ... The e-mail also continually blurs the important distinction between legal and illegal immigrants -- a sign of sloppy and untrustworthy work."

I am fully aware that I've left myself wide open for someone to demonstrate Froehlich's bona fides by quoting me saying "Froehlich's opinion is not entirely without merit..." and leaving out "...until you actually research that claim." Go ahead. Make my day. Take this out of context just like the "you didn't build that" meme.

On two other occasions Mr. Froehlich relied on viral emails, loaded with falsehoods, to promote his opinion. One was about the "Democratic origins of Social Security under FDR" and the other, entitled "Hubris," was about Obama being a narcissist and not giving credit to the military for killing Osama Bin Laden.

Both were fully discredited. At what point does this become embarrassing enough to cease doing it? When do purveyors of such nonsense lose credibility with readers? No doubt there will be more of this in future opinion pieces. As a pre-emptive strike, read "Viral Spiral: Don't get spun by internet rumors" www.factcheck.org/hot-topics) and track "Is this chain email true" factcheck.org/2008/03/that-chain-e-mail-your-friend-sent-to-you-is-likely-bogus-seriously).

Whether you are a reporter, blogger or a columnist, false rumors and emails are not legitimate sources of information. In most circles, repeatedly committing this offense warrants discredit or, at the very least, rebuke.

This brings to question what is the personal responsibility and accountability of the writer. Should they be held accountable and by whom? Some may believe that in the interest of fairness and balance we should hear them out. Since when should lies be given equal weight to truth? It's un-American.

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