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How Disinfo Works-- a Parable

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Joined: 08 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 7:23 am    Post subject: How Disinfo Works-- a Parable Reply with quote

The Mayor of Bigtown

The Mayor of Bigtown had a problem. Someone smelled something fishy when a very lucrative contract to build a number of of parking ramps for the city was awarded to a contractor from another city without the proper bidding process. It was suggested by the mayor's political enemies that the new contractor was a company owned by the mayor's old army buddy. The mayor flatly denied this, claiming that he met the owner of the contracting company for the first time just a few months earlier.

This turned out to be a flat lie. Proof was found that the contractor was a very close friend of the mayor. His army buddy, in fact. The mayor's story began to change as the truth emerged, but by now one thing was certain. The mayor lied to the people of the city about city business. He deserved to be recalled or fired and maybe indicted.

But something funny began to happen. An internet/email campaign began where it was claimed that the mayor was a Satan worshipper and a cannibal. Some evidence was presented (blurry photos and testimony by "witnesses") claiming to prove that the mayor was the leader of a Satanic cult. Then more stories began to circulate. A young couple had worked as political staffers for the mayor's opponent in the last election. They had loudly criticized the mayor and had brought a lawsuit against him over what seemed like an unrelated issue involving some real estate. Then the couple had mysteriously disappeared.

It was suggested that the mayor had hired someone to kill them. Then a "whistleblower" appeared--the mayor's former housekeeper--who claimed that the mayor was so corrupt that he was practically a mafia don.

Then the bickering began. The group who believed that the mayor was a Satanic child-eater fought with the group claiming that he was merely a gangster. A website was created called "The Rational Approach" that soberly dismantled the "Satanist" argument while putting forth a "reasonable" theory that the mayor was in organized crime and had murdered at least two people (the missing couple).

Time passed. The original problem, that the mayor had improperly awarded a contract, just faded from memory. The mayor stayed in office and no charges were filed. When asked, the district attorney hinted at "an ongoing investigation" and "the need for discretion" and everybody assumed that they meant the Satan-cannibal-gangster-killer investigation was ongoing and soon the mayor would be indicted or cleared.

The army buddy built the parking ramps and made millions. People watched them being built. Nobody did a thing. They were pretty good ramps. When the mayor's wife began to speak to the press, she hinted that some financial improprieties involving city funds had been motivated by her gambling addiction, and she felt the need to confess this as part of her recovery program.

This bombshell fizzled. Few people, obsessed with stories of child abduction, contract killers, Satan worshipping and mafia connections, were interested in how a few thousand dollars had been "redirected" during the mayor's term in office. Folks felt sorry for his wife. They applauded her courage. They wondered if she would leave him.

Then came an election. The mayor's opponent didn't mention any of the wild rumors about the mayor. She didn't even mention that he improperly handed over a big contract to his pal. She did mention that the mayor may have taken some money to bail his wife out of a jam, but this had the opposite effect from what was intended. People thought, "How could a mafia kingpin be stealing a few thousand bucks? He must not be a cult leader or a godfather, not if he's stealing so little!"

Then someone gave the mayor's opponent a copy of some accounting records that seemed to indicate that the mayor had taken $3400 from the city accounts in an improper fashion. But as soon as this story broke, it was revealed that the accounting records were forged. The scandal now became how the local newspaper had printed a story based on phony documents. A reporter was fired. Nobody asked who had forged the documents and leaked them to the press--or why.

The Mayor was re-elected for a fourth term. As time went by, more and more stories about the mayor's shifty dealings surfaced, but by then, the population of Bigtown was just glad to know that the mayor wasn't a cannibal. Some people still believed that he was a gangster, and they loved to tell stories about how scary and tough it was to stand up to a killer. And so on. They loved to tell scary stories.

But what happened concerning the original misconduct that should have gotten the mayor fired? Nobody gave a hoot. "What? He just helped out an old army buddy? He helped out his wife? So what? At least he's not a Satanic Cult Leader Child Eating Mafia Godfather. Now THAT would be a problem!"

...and what about that young couple that disappeared? As the years passed, evidence began to mount that the mayor knew something about it. But when anyone suggested that a real investigation should begin, the were asked, "You're not one of those crazy conspiracy nuts, are you? You don't think that mayor's a cannibal, do you? Ha ha ha!"

"All major crime is an inside job."

Livestock detective Henry Beige (Slim Pickens) in the movie "Rancho Deluxe."
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