The Washington Times gives a bizarre voice today to a subject previously reserved for the water coolers: Barack Obama as a target of an assassination:
"For many black supporters, there is a lot of anxiety that he will be killed, and it is on people's minds," said Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a Princeton University professor of political science and contemporary black culture.
The right-leaning newspaper uses a favorite mainstream media trick to justify its focus: blaming the Internet.
The Internet is rife with theories that someone may try to assassinate the senator — typing into Google "assassinate Obama" brings up more than 2,000 hits. Anyone from Islamist terrorists to racist Americans to operatives of Halliburton and Blackwater are speculated about, but other, more nefarious Web sites are for real, according to reports from the Associated Press.
Typing the phrase into Google actually returns 264,000 "hits" (an odd choice of words, indeed). A little over 2,000 items pop up when searching "news," but none appears to be from "nefarious Web sites" (unless you include the Washington Times) and most are actually about Obama discussing the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
Typing just about anything into Google is going to yield a ton of results. It's a poor indicator of the severity of any threat. Here, for example, are some other Google search results and the number of "hits."
Obama Zucchini - 34,800
Britney Obama - 2.3 million
Marshmallow Obama - 59,100
UFO Obama - 271,000
Ointment Obama - 59,000
Underwear Obama - 280,000
The Web site Editor & Publisher employed another long-standing journalistic trick to get its point of view into the discussion: the unnamed "some."
...but some may wonder if this kind of attention -- mentioning that "Obama assassinate" already gets 2000 Google links -- may only increase the threat.
For the record, Obama was placed under Secret Service protection last May, at his campaign's request.
The NY Times said this in an article entitled "Clinton’s Civil Rights Lesson" by SARAH WHEATON (1/7/08)
As they barnstorm through New Hampshire, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband are often introduced by supporters who once backed another candidate but converted to her cause.
Today, in Dover, Francine Torge, a former John Edwards supporter, said this while introducing Mrs. Clinton: “Some people compare one of the other candidates to John F. Kennedy. But he was assassinated. And Lyndon Baines Johnson was the one who actually” passed the civil rights legislation.
The comment, an apparent reference to Senator Barack Obama, is particularly striking given documented fears among blacks that Mr. Obama will be assassinated if elected.
Phil Singer, a Clinton spokesman said: “We were not aware that this person was going to make those comments and disapprove of them completely. They were totally inappropriate.”
Mrs. Clinton’s expression did not change noticeably when Ms. Torge made the comment.
So I get the impression that I am the only one that is not privy to this assassination plot. Like in your blog, there are assertions in this article that are hard to verify.
But what troubles me more is that, when talking about your internet searches of, for instance "zucchini" and "Obama" to demonstrate that number of search hits may not indicate the prevalence of an idea or, in this case, surreptitious revolutionary movement (presumably, for zucchinis to do something nefarious), people tell me "yeah, he will be assassinated."
How do they know? And why such assuredness?
I have to say that if intent/desire was all it took to assassinate a president, we'd have had a lot more of them by now. If I were Obama, I don't think I'd be any more worried than if I were, say, George W. Bush.