Mitt Romney's campaign, desperately trying to stem the bleeding caused by a secret video published by Mother Jones, described it on Wednesday as "debunked and selectively edited."
The effort was so bold and brash – so over-the-top chutzpadik – that it has since inspired an epidemic of Americans similarly declaring their recorded acts as "debunked and selectively edited."
The first to do so was former Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner – whose egregious error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series led to Boston's demise.
Immediately after word came that Romney's team had "debunked" an unedited video, Buckner released his own statement:
"I have come to the conclusion that the video of the slow roller that went through my legs has been debunked and selectively edited.Soon after Buckner's statement, the floodgates opened this afternoon as countless politicians and on-air personalities, famous for embarrassing moments, realized they could debunk whatever the hell they wanted.
Here's just a partial list of those who today have debunked their recorded moments:
- Sarah Palin Tweeted, "The lamestream media's attempt to discredit me is debunked! My interview with Katie Couric was selectively edited!"
- Former President George W. Bush's representatives emailed reporters, "That moment in which shoes were thrown at the President in Iraq has been debunked. The video was selectively edited, and left out Bush thanking contributors to his shoe donation drive post-press conference.
- Bill O'Reilly debunked his infamous, profanity-laced freakout on today's show, stating, "That crap everyone says was my freakout has been disproved, mother f*ckers. Thing was selectively edited."
- Ernie Enastos, the newscaster who gained fame by declaring on camera "keep f*cking that chicken," ended tonight's broadcast by declaring, "And finally, video of me saying "Keep f*cking that chicken" has been f*cking debunked!"
- A Fox 5 reporter, whose legendary grape-stomping story on wine making ended in one of the most dramatic falls on television, declared the video pure bunk. "You don't even see me on screen! That's because that video's been debunked and was selectively edited!"
With this debunking epidemic in full swing, parents groups are up in arms, worried about the messages such debunking will have on our youth.
"Today my daughter asked if she could debunk the math test she got a C- on yesterday," said Gloria Honelly, founder of Parents for Integrity. "The kid's only nine. She shouldn't even know what debunk means."
John Presby of Children Must Learn by Example agreed: "Now everyone's going to want to debunk stuff. You'll have children debunking their messy rooms. Teenagers debunking the clear cigarette stains on the passenger seat. College students debunking early start times for classes. Where will it end?"
This appears to be the question everyone is asking: where will it end?
"Romney's gotta end this," continued Presby. "After all, he started it."
The "debunked" charge, which the campaign later walked back slightly, was actually levied against a shorter portion of the video originally published. Which portion? The one in which Romney blundered on the topic of Middle East peace by trashing the Palestinians and the two-state solution.
However, while the challenge was against a small portion of the video, the campaign's intent was clear: declare nearly 50 minutes of Romney's unedited words as "debunked and selectively edited," hoping voters would dismiss the entire episode. In other words, the campaign's hope was to convince Americans that what you see is not what you should believe.