Yes, Phillip, they do take you for fools, and they will continue to do so as long as you make it so easy for them.
This is a pretty good example of the lies that the right wing lie factory cranks out on a regular basis. It’s been thoroughly debunked by snopes, FactCheck, and dozens of other places, so I won’t repeat all that. Instead I want to talk about some of the items in the message that should set off anyone’s bullshit alarm.
At first glance this appears to be an official statement from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama. It has the company’s logo; it’s signed by someone with an important sounding job title; there’s a phone number for further information; it has lots of details that make it look official. But then you read the content, and that’s when the alarm should go off. The content is heavy-handed, poorly written, and blatantly political. This is not the sort of thing that a company the size, sophistication and prestige of BCBS Alabama would put out. Just take a look at their web site. It’s a slick, professionally made site, which is what you’d expect from a multimillion dollar company concerned about its image.
Within the copy there are several specific clues that point to the right wing lie factory. The first is the pejorative reference to the mainstream media. The far right loves to hate the mainstream media all the while ignoring the fact that their beloved Fox News is now a major player in the mainstream media.
Dismissing the mainstream media has become a clever but tedious tactic used by the lie factory for convincing the gullible that what they thought they knew was all wrong. The message is, “Don’t believe what you’re being told by television, newspapers, science, teachers, the neighbors, etc. They’re all part of the conspiracy. Only we know the ‘truth’.” Of course their truth is a big, fat, stinkin’ lie – an irony no doubt lost on them.
There’s actually a bit of a twist to this story. When I first saw this I assumed that someone had simply photoshopped the BCBS logo onto an email. As it turns out, it really did come from BCBS-Alabama, though not through any official channels. There really is a woman named Peggy Riehle who works (or worked) there and that’s her actual job title and phone number (now disconnected) right there on the letterhead. Apparently Ms. Riehle received the email from a friend and forwarded it to her contacts while at work through her BCBS mail account, hence the official logo. Once the email went viral, BCBS was swamped with calls, and it’s a safe bet that some of those calls were not so friendly. This, of course, triggered all sorts of policy and personnel changes within BCBS-Alabama along with the obligatory retraining sessions. Ms. Riehle has no doubt learned her lesson about sending out personal emails from her work computer, but I’m less confident that she has learned her lesson about fact checking before forwarding.
I thought I’d drop by the Facebook page where I got the BCBS screenshot just to see what had happened with it. It’s discouraging. There are already 255 shares. Even though the second post to the thread screamed, “This is blatantly false” and gave a link to snopes, this wasn’t enough to keep people from spreading it around to their friends. This goes to show just how virulent these lies are. 255 shares from one post, and each of these shares will have its own shares, and on and on exponentially through the Internet.