Tuesday, November 04, 2008
As in the last American presidential election's Swiftboating and name-calling "French!", rumoresque communication was a staple of election 2008. The most widespread of these rumors claims that Barack Obama is a Muslim, an Arab, and a terrorist (by association), though another extreme form appeared the last week of October when a woman told police she was attacked by a black man for being a McCain supporter. This species of political rumor deserves its own name, which I call the Rumor Bomb. The pervasiveness of rumor bombs demonstrates a new kind of disorientation and volatility in American political media, even if political rumors themselves are timeless.