Clearly the underlying attempt is to try and protect the right from the horror and ridicule that their followers’ actions deserve.
As a local example the swirling rumour about Jacinda Ardern’s pending resignation as Prime Minister is another example of fact free disinformation being use as a weapon. The rumour implies either that she is not up to the stresses of the job or that she is disinterested in the job.
The former certainly is simply not true. She has led the country through truly extraordinary times and has performed immaculately. Just compare our Covid death rates with the US or UK rates if you need evidence of this.
The latter is also not true. I can sense concern from her over the nature and extent of verbal attacks on her and on politicians generally. A recent example where a woman with a sword smashed the front window to Ardern’s office cannot have helped. But there is a clear determination on her part to get the job done.
Ardern has repeatedly denied the rumour. From the Spinoff yesterday:
Speaking to RNZ this morning, Ardern said she had “no intention” of changing her position as Labour leader. “If I had a dollar for every rumour… I can also clarify I’m not moving to New Plymouth,” she said (I had not heard this rumour, but Ardern repeated it on Newshub too – did she start it?)
Asked whether she’d subsequently see out the next term if she wins, Ardern added: “When you run for an election you run to win and you run to stay.”
That is the feature of a rumour however. It can have absolutely no basis in reality yet still be damaging.
This particular rumour has gained some traction because of self admitted speculation from an overpaid radio host which was then amplified and turned into a pseudo academic article by an academic that ought to know better. Fancy drawing a conclusion from the self confessed uninformed reckons of a radio talk back host?
The intent of the rumour is not to have her stand down. Instead it is to attack her strengths, the stamina and fortitude that she has shown over five intense years. People thinking there is the slightest chance she will stand down mean that their judgment of her attributes is downgraded. And unfortunately there are enough people sufficiently disposed to not rule out gossip out to make this a potent tool.
The best response in my view is to treat the rumour mongers with disdain and point out to them how irrational their comments are. And to question their motivation and expose their game plan.