Sunday, September 26, 2010

Watch out for Obamaphone!

There are more than a fair number of people who are just so certain that President Obama is trying to bring down the Constitution and the nation that they are quick to jump on any accusation that fits their preconceptions.

The latest disinformation campaign targeting the president has just reached my inbox.

The subject line, "Uhhhh ohhhh Hope you are sitting down!" fulfilled its purpose by getting me to open the email. The headline, "Our friend obama did it again" encouraged me to read on:

I hope you are sitting down.I had a former employee call me earlier today inquiring about a job, and at the end of the conversation he gave me his phone number. I asked the former employee if this was a new cell phone number, and he told me yes, this was his "Obama phone." I asked him what an "Obama phone" was, and he went on to say that welfare recipients are now eligible to receive (1) a FREE new cell phone, and (2) approximately 70 FREE minutes of air time every month.

I was a little skeptical, so I Googled it, and lo and behold, he was telling the truth. TAXPAYER MONEY IS BEING REDISTRIBUTED TO WELFARE RECIPIENTS FOR FREE CELL PHONES. Enough is enough, the ship is sinking, and it's sinking fast. The age-old concepts of God, family, and hard work have flown out the window, and are being replaced with Hope and Change, Change we can believe in," and "Why should I work for it, when I can get it for free?"

Then, for those of us too lazy to Google this ourselves, the email conveniently provided a link:

You can click on the link below to read more about the ObamaPhone;

https://www.safelinkwireless.com/EnrollmentPublic/Home.aspx

So, of course, I clicked away.

The very link provided by the sender of this email that purports to warn us about this scam says this:

There is no "Obama phone" or other newly created federal program to provide free cell phones. As you may know, this is a myth that is now circulating on the Web via email and blog sites. It has been thoroughly debunked by independent groups. (See for example: FactCheck.org at http://www.factcheck.org/2009/10/the-obama-phone/, which notes: "Low-income households have been eligible for discounted telephone service for more than a decade. But the program is funded by telecom companies, not by taxes, and the president has nothing to do with it."

The federal "Lifeline" program was created during the Reagan Administration. Lifeline is a federal program created by the Reagan era Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1984. The program was enhanced under Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was supported on a broadly bipartisan basis in Congress. The FCC’s Low Income Program of the Universal Service Fund, which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), is designed to ensure that quality telecommunications services are available to low-income customers at just, reasonable, and affordable rates. Lifeline support reduces eligible low-income consumers' monthly charges for basic telephone service.

Imagine that. The people who are breathlessly spreading this disinformation include a link that proves that their allegation is a lie.

I read this little tidbit after returning late from the Motor City Radio Reunion, where I shared a table with two veteran broadcast journalists, both of whom agreed with me that people in this nation are becoming frightened over disinformation that they receive in their email inboxes - and then - perhaps thinking themselves the modern-day equivalent of Paul Revere spread the "alarm" even further by forwarding it all of their email contacts.

Then, of course, they hold up these emails as another example of the "liberal news media" withholding information critical of the president.

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