|Would you believe the gossip on Democratic Rep. David Wu?|
My Group is "Gossip 1." The group was initially composed of six students, left to decide on what to work on. We figured to divide such a broad topic into popular categories. Movie stars, pop divas, etc. In the end I was left with gossip in politics as the most common were taken.
Quite a challenging task, as I came to figure that political gossip is much different than your average gossip topic...mainly due to the fact that politicians are in charged of responsibilities that can easily affect your own life! But also because these politicians are already well-defined public figures to be scrutinized and criticized in every speech and action they take; political or not. Their reputation is their profession's livelihood. Rumors and gossip are of the most harmful essence.
The Wikipedia page defines gossip as malicious in nature, and it is popularly regarded as such by popular opinion (that is, what we can derive from pop culture). I liked the definition that Wisegeek.com has to offer:
"In general, gossip involves the creation and repetition of rumors regarding an individual who is not present to offer his or her perspective on the purported events under discussion. Generally, gossip has little or no basis in fact and is sometimes intended to convey a negative image of an individual. This process of spreading rumors is utilized in just about every setting from reporting on the movements of public figures to discussing situations involving family, friends, and acquaintances"I like how this definition included the fact that the individual the gossiping is being done about is NOT present to defend his/her self against the allegations. Thus, gossip is just bad in general and the more considerate individual will usually avoid it. One can perceive the correlation of gossip with teenage school girls. As much of a stereotype that is, it is only by experience that people learn the dangers of gossiping.
What ever gossiping has been trough out human nature, it is now amplified by the improvement of the tools humans have made. Now, the most useful tool is the internet. Gossip now spreads instantly around the world, with a filter on which gossip to read/watch about in the web. However this all applies to your average gossip. Everything gets weird when we introduce the Political gossip into the web.
ABC and CNBC news companies present politician's current events right upfront. This reporting gets spread around by people, and as all gossip works, soon more opinions will be added to the facts, and thus a fallacious image of a political candidate is made.
Here the First Lady is stalked at Target, forming a scandal with gossip:
People who are into this make their own political gossip websites, such as ObamaTwits.com and Cracked.com. Here the blogger/writer will present this political scandals with their opinion or bias.
But where is the line between these political scandals and gossip drawn? What ever gossip arises from political events will harm the politician's reputation. This collective bad image perceived and reciprocated by the people is the advent of gossip rather than the original factual scandal it self.
emailing pictures of himself in questionable outfits. Yeah, the hilarious tiger outfit.
One of the biggest phenomenons in politics for me has been how the internet has crept it's way into our politicians smartphones: Twitter. Anybody who is somebody in the political world has Twitter. All their tweets can be found here, with each politician having their personal "@your_favorite_candidate."
Twitter is now the stage where most of the political dirt and gossip comes into play, in a hand held device near you! Mainly because it isn't just updated by their administrative counterparts--no--they personally write their comments and opinions on the matters at hand; specially during on-going speeches by their competitors.
Now not only is this gossiping harmful for the individual politician, but the biggest reason why political gossip is different than other gossip is that leadership capabilities or political competence in a candidate may all go to waste by negative perceptions of this person formed through gossip. The good politician might have a scandal that could ruin his career forever, while the genuinely bad politician will get away into office and affect every ones lives negatively.
Bringing the internet and cyberspace into politics can of course be a good thing, as most political administrations like Obama's have a facebook page where he can reach millions of varying demographics using such websites.
Twitter, however, can be the downfall as the politicians' comments and opinions get recorded and spread faster than ever before, giving them much of a less change to defend themselves. As Rep. Wu showed us, politicians have to be careful on how they use their technology and present themselves through cyberspace.