Remember back to the 2004 U.S. election when a dubious report by CBS’s 60 Minutes program questioning President Bush’s military record became the subject of heated debate on the Intertubes?
Key to the assertions implicit in that report was the legitimacy of certain documents purporting to show then-Lieutenant Bush had effectively shirked his service in the Texas Air National Guard to work instead as a political hack.
To quickly neutralize the potentially harmful effect these damaging allegations may have had to the reputation of the self-described “War President” and his campaign for re-election, countless “experts” immediately materialized on right-wing blogs claiming that based on their arcane knowledge of typewriter technology circa 1968, and most particularly, hairsplitting expertise over the intricate kerning of fonts, the documentation in question had quite probably been faked.
Hence, the “kerning” phenomenon, whereby anyone with an Internet connection and the ability to execute a Google search on a given subject could, with sufficient determination, become something of an “expert” on just about any subject in rather short order.
Watching the dramatic events unfold in Egypt over the last week brought this notion back to mind. All of a sudden, people who until last week probably couldn’t locate that country on a map of the world and who’d never even heard of the “Muslim Brotherhood” up to this point (e.g., Glenn Beck, who admitted as much in the preamble to his lunatic Coming Insurrection program the other night), are now authoritatively opining on the situation and have suddenly become “experts” on the deeply convoluted machinations of politics in the Arab world.
So I’ve coined a new word to describe this curious dynamic:
Hey, if Sarah Palin can get inducted into Webster’s with her inadvertent conflation “refudiate” then why not put forward a new word that adds some actual value to the lexicon?
Update: Here’s a perfect case in point.