When confirming whether or not an event took place, journalists are supposed to verify the information they eventually print. But in doing her absolute best to make the nonexistent Michelle Obama “whitey tape” a national story, Maureen Dowd can’t even be bothered to cite by name a reference that supports the rumor she’s trying to spread.

There are creepy Web sites, like TheObamaFile.com, dedicated to painting Michelle as a female version of Jeremiah Wright, an angry black woman, the disgruntled, lecturing “Mrs. Grievance” depicted on the cover of National Review.

On that site and others around the Internet, the seamy rumors still slither that there’s a tape of Michelle denouncing “whitey,” a rumor that Barack Obama disdained last week as “scurrilous.”

The National Review is where the rumor was definitively debunked, as conservative journalist Jim Geraghty pointed out that the details of the rumor appear to be lifted from a 2006 political thriller called The Power Broker. In fact, between New York Post Editorial writer Robert George who pointed out something like this gets spread about the Democratic nominee every year, and David Wiegel at Reason pointing out the shifting details of Larry Johnson’s story, it’s fair to say that conservatives were the ones who took this rumor to pieces.

So in citing the National Review as a source for the rumor Dowd conveniently neglects to mention that a reporter at that very same publication proved it wasn’t true. Her second source for the rumor is “the internet.” Certainly a proud moment in journalism history. From now on, when verifying facts, reporters and Op-Ed need only cite, “the internet”. There isn’t a diarist at Daily Kos who could get away with that, but there it is on the New York Times Op-Ed page.

But unsubstantiated rumors and innuendo are in fact, the only thing Dowd writes about. So she introduced the tape in this column as a rumor “other people are talking about” so that she can continue to write about it endlessly, all Summer and into the Fall, even though no tape will ever materialize. She takes the positioning of criticizing the Right Wing Noise Machine’s attack on Michelle Obama even as she legitimizes a story that, with the exception of Roger Stone, they decided was so untrue not even they’d run with it.

And in every column, she will produce the same paper-thin empathy towards Michelle Obama that she offers all women she smears, a rhetorical device that can’t hide the contempt she feels for women on the national stage.

At a time when Obama is trying to get the American people to pay attention to his policy agenda, Dowd not only wants you to judge the Obamas for the color of their skin, but also the content of what they didn’t say.

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