By Paul Gable
We live in a political climate where dirty tricks are used to create rumors to smear those seen as enemies by the rumormongers.
These rumors, lies are what they really are, come in all shapes and sizes, but they have the same thing in common – to discredit the person they are aimed against.
How well they work depends on the gullibility of the audience they are targeted to influence.
Some of the more ridiculous rumors about public figures we have heard include:
Justice Brett Kavanaugh as a young man attended parties where women were routinely gang raped. That one pushed the envelope too far to be believed.
In late 2015 when Donald Trump had established himself as a serious contender for the Republican nomination, a fake story said he told a magazine in 1998 if he ever ran for president it would be as a Republican because “they’re the dumbest group of voters in the country” and that “he could lie and they’d still eat it up.” Rather than hurt him with Republican voters, Trump went on to win the nomination and election.
In the 2000 primary season, John McCain was accused of fathering an illegitimate black child, which was actually a child from Bangladesh that McCain and his wife adopted. This one stuck a bit with South Carolina voters as George Bush came from behind to win the South Carolina primary and go on to be elected president.
Rumors were circulated about Nikki Haley having multiple affairs during the 2010 primary season, which the voters disregarded. In fact, the rumors were so poorly presented that Haley vaulted from fourth place to win the Republican nomination and go on to twice being elected South Carolina Governor.
More recently, Horry County citizens have been presented with a rumor about county council chairman Johnny Gardner. Interestingly, the Columbia website that played a prominent part in publishing a leaked memo about the fictitious plot from county attorney Arrigo Carotti, written in conjunction with administrator Chris Eldridge, was the same website that played a prominent part in the Haley rumors.
As in the Haley case, Horry County citizens quickly discredited the fictitious story about Gardner.
However, some county council members were gullible enough to be duped by the story and have chosen to wait until a SLED investigation report about the alleged incident is made public. (You can fool some of the people all of the time)
One council member even said Carotti and Eldridge were “just doing their jobs” in sending the memo to SLED even though the memo itself states there are several stories out there and the authors do not know which one is the truth.
As with the above four rumors about Kavanaugh, Trump, McCain and Haley, not knowing the truth didn’t stop the story from being leaked and the attempted smear campaign to move forward.
We are now getting down to crunch time when the SLED report will be issued finding no truth in the allegations against Gardner. At that point, council members will have to step up and excise those who embarrassed the county by leaking the story or be recognized as too gullible or just too dull to be trusted with the county’s business.