Tracing the Freerepublic smear on Obama

Tracing the Freerepublic smear on Obama

An Attack That Came Out of the Ether
Scholar Looks for First Link in E-Mail Chain About Obama

The e-mail landed in Danielle Allen’s queue one winter morning as she was studying in her office at the Institute for Advanced Study, the renowned haven for some of the nation’s most brilliant minds. The missive began: “THIS DEFINITELY WARRANTS LOOKING INTO.”

Laid out before Allen, a razor-sharp, 36-year-old political theorist, was what purported to be a biographical sketch of Barack Obama that has become one of the most effective — and baseless — Internet attacks of the 2008 presidential season. The anonymous chain e-mail makes the false claim that Obama is concealing a radical Islamic background. By the time it reached Allen on Jan. 11, 2008, it had spread with viral efficiency for more than a year.

Tracking down the cretins.

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