Burriss: Dirty tricks nothing new
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I like to think I'm pretty good at figuring out media and communication problems. I may not always come up with the best answer in the world, but I can usually think of something. But here's a problem that has me stumped, and is turning into a real nightmare. It has to do with reality.

We're learning more and more about dirty tricks the political campaigns are trying on each other. We've seen lies passed off as truth, we've seen doctored photos and misleading headlines.

You've heard the expression, "If it's too good to be true it probably isn't." Well, the opposite is also true: "If it's too bad to be true, it probably isn't."

Think about this: Candidate A puts out a press release making an accusation against Candidate B. But how do we know candidate B didn't create the press release just so he could respond to the charges, and accuse his opponent of taking the proverbial "low road"?

We know the blogs will pick up all of the charges and counter charges, but how many of those bloggers are independent and how many are in the pay of the candidate or a supposedly independent political action committee?

But then I got to thinking, how do I evaluate the site criticizing the original web site? How do I know it's legitimate? How do I really know the site I looked at, containing perhaps stories from "The New York Times, was in itself a legitimate site?

News hoaxes and political dirty tricks are nothing new. But they seem to have gotten out of hand. And in an election season that can be a real danger to democracy. Our whole system is based on the idea of an informed electorate. But when both sides are distorting, posturing and playing political games, rather than playing political reality, everyone, and the country, loses.


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