Below is an excerpt from my story “I Dream of a World Without Smears” published on March 15 for The Hill
Smear /smeer/: noun
- Carefully timed and publicized release of negative material, true or not, about a target.
- Character assassination.
Bork, Thomas, Hill, Clinton, Clinton, Beck, Imus, Palin, Biden, Obama, O’Reilly, Sanders, Trump, Hannity, Kavanaugh, Northam, Klobuchar, Carlson ...
Smears have become a distasteful staple in our media diet. The nonprofits, LLCs, super PACs, PR firms, crisis management companies and global law firms that organize and promote smears have formed a multibillion-dollar industry. They’re profiting beyond imagination.
After interviewing many players who work in the smear industry, I came up with three characteristics that qualify an accusation as a smear. The determination of whether a particular attack is, in fact, a smear lies not so much in the truth of the accusation, but in execution and motivation.
In a smear:
- The media are used as a tool in an organized effort to amplify accusations, true or not, in a fashion disproportionate to the alleged offense.
- Though moral outrage is voiced, the accused actually is targeted for entirely different reasons, usually in a campaign by political or financial competitors.
- The goal of a smear is the target’s destruction.
When a smear is launched against someone we don’t like, we may be happy to enjoy the ride. If it’s against someone we like, we fret about how unjust it is. But we seldom step back and see the big truth: We are little more than an unwitting audience watching a scripted play. There are behind-the-scenes producers, writers and actors. They are experts at working the media, plucking our emotions and prompting their desired results. They carefully time each allegation, roll out demands for apologies or resignations, and organize “grassroots” boycotts.
You can read the rest of the story here: https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/434065-i-dream-of-a-world-without-smears]]>