Tag Archives: smearing

Smearing 101

It seems that there are a few folks who need clarification as to what a “smear campaign” actually is. Let’s start by defining the term itself:

A smear campaign is an intentional, premeditated effort to undermine an individual’s or group’s reputation, credibility, and character. “Mud slinging”, like negative campaigning, most often targets government officials, politicians, political candidates, and other public figures. However, private persons or groups may also become targets of smear campaigns perpetrated in schools, companies, institutions, families, and other social groups.

Smear tactics differ from normal discourse or debate in that they do not bear upon the issues or arguments in question. A smear is a simple attempt to malign a group or an individual and to attempt to undermine their credibility.

Smears often consist of ad hominem attacks in the form of unverifiable rumors and are often distortions, half-truths, or even outright lies; smear campaigns are often propagated by gossip spreading.


So, making factually-based criticisms of a (Vice) Presidential candidate’s knowledge on foreign policy or economics, for instance, is not smearing. These are legitimate issues relevant to the position s/he is running for.

On the other hand, it is smearing to repeatedly claim or insinuate that a particular candidate is a terrorist, a foreign national or a sexist, for example, when there is no evidence to support the claims or the claims have been proven false.

In short, all smears are criticisms, but not all criticisms are smears.

There’s really not a lot more to say on the subject; it’s really quite that simple. So that’s our lesson for today. Class dismissed.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


I’ve been a having a discussion with a blogger named Rigg, who said regarding Bristol Palin’s pregnancy, that “in the Democrats’ view all children are game if it will take down their opponent”. This extraordinary statement comes at the very end of the post. I commented only to point out that Obama himself stated that Palin’s family — especially her children — are off limits and that he would fire anyone from his campaign who takes part in the rumor mongering.

Rigg objected to Obama’s public statement on the grounds that he made it after the attacks had already started. I then asked when he thought would have been appropriate, and pointed out the problems with making such a statement prior to the onset of the attacks. After two days of twisting like a worm on a hook, Rigg has not yet answered that simple question.

I honestly cannot understand the reasoning behind Rigg’s position. Rather than simply acknowledging that Obama has taken an honorable stance on the Bristol Palin issue, he is absolutely determined to turn even that — a point on which people from both sides can actually agree — into a point of contention. It’s mind-boggling.

Now, I wasn’t planning to blog about this; it’s really a minor point and more of an annoyance than anything else. But then I saw this:

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