Appearing on the White House blog creatively titled "The Blog" yesterday was a post that said the following (EXCERPTS):
Scary chain emails and videos are starting to percolate on the internet, breathlessly claiming, for example, to "uncover" the truth about the President’s health insurance reform positions.
There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can understand the desire on the part of people in the White House to keep a handle on the claims and arguments being used in a policy debate, but . . . isn't it their job to keep track of those?
I mean, just yesterday there was that video of the former totally objective ABC reporter turned Democratic White House staffer Linda Douglass explaining that that was one of her jobs (along with, no doubt, others at the White House). She even showed us her computer, which was using the lame program Microsoft Internet Explorer to connect to the Internet, so we know she can read blogs with the best of them.
But the White House seems concerned that it doesn't have the resources to monitor everything that goes on in America "below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation." So they're asking citizens to report "fishy" statements made by other American citizens to the White House.
Color me skeptical, but creating a program to "flag" e-mails and web sites that take a contrary position to the White House's–a program that relies on citizens reporting their fellow citizens when they send or post something that "seems fishy" (meaning: contrary to the message the White House wants to get out)–strikes me as a misstep.
I imagine whoever is monitoring the e-mail address will get a lot of protests in addition to whatever tips come in. And there will be negative coverage of this on the Internet.
On the other hand, the folks at ReasonTV are taking a constructive attitude . . .