A comically absurd Barack Obama smear email is making the rounds right now involving a fabricated column by famed New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. The email, presented as a June 29 op-ed (replete with The Times' font, layout, and Dowd byline) presents the "shocking" revelation that Obama's prodigious Internet fundraising apparatus is really driven by wealthy financiers from -- you guessed it -- "Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other Middle Eastern countries."
Taking her cues from anonymous Obama campaign "Internet geeks," the fictional Dowd column reads:
"What I learned from this insider was shocking but I guess we shouldn't be surprised that when it comes to fund raising there simply are no rules that can't be broken and no ethics that prevail. [...]
"I guess we should have been somewhat suspicious when the numbers started to come out. We were told (no proof offered) that the Obama internet contributions were from $10.00 to $25.00 or so.
"If the $200,000,000 is right, and the average contribution was $15.00, that would mean over 13 million individuals made contributions? That would also be 13 million contributions would need to be processed. How did all that happen?"
Where to begin? For starters, the average Obama contribution has been around $100, not $15. The campaign, by law, must disclose all donors who have given over $200. And, most obviously, a review of the paper of record shows that Dowd's column on June 29 was not on Obama fundraising but rather Hillary Clinton supporters.
Dowd herself found the email an exercise in absurdity, not to mention -- quite possibly -- the first time she's been indirectly involved in a smear campaign.
"The line about it being the 'most shocking revelation,' I don't think I've ever said those words, except in a satire. Also, it is about money, which I never write about," she told the Huffington Post. "Sometime you try and protest things you hear about, but sometimes it's just not worth it... It is hard to track down and control these things, and anyone who reads my column knows that this wasn't me. I got to the second line and I knew it wasn't me."
The Obama campaign, as is now its practice, addressed the fake Dowd column in a post today on its website, Fight the Smears. But sometimes it's worth noting just how outrageous and offensive -- both to Obama and the public's intelligence -- these attacks can be.