World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article
 

Dirty tricks

Dirty Tricks, also the title of a novel (2003) by Dibdin, Michael

Dirty tricks are unethical, duplicitous, slanderous or illegal tactics employed to destroy or diminish the effectiveness of political or business opponents. The term "dirty trick" can also be used to refer to an underhanded technique to get ahead of an opponent (such as sabotage or disregarding rules of engagement).

Contents

  • Electoral 1
    • Watergate-era 1.1
  • Non-electoral politics 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Electoral

Leaking secret information, digging into a candidate's past (opposition research) or exposing real conflicts between the image presented and the person behind the image are always subject to argument as to whether they are dirty tricks or truth-telling. When a candidate runs into trouble or roadblocks in his or her campaign that are traceable to the other side, he/she can easily charge their opponent with dirty tricks. Often, the candidate is right in this accusation, but one candidate's "dirty trick" is another's "political strategy". The distinction changes with the times. Of course imputing the discovery of a past misdemeanor to the other side can be considered a "dirty trick" in its own right.

However, manufactured, irrelevant, cruel and incorrect rumors or outright lies or falsehoods designed to damage or destroy an opponent are easily described as dirty tricks. They serve to tie up the opponent into defending against and answering false charges rather than explaining their policies and platform.

Sometimes dirty tricks are not only aimed at slandering the opponent. Dishing the dirt against your candidate's opponent can be effective at alienating voters in order to turn them off from the entire project. These tactics may reduce turnout in order to assure your candidate gains by having his/her core voters show up at the polls; thus, an operative molds the outcome by angering everyone. The effort to lower an official's or a candidate's popularity in the polls is called "driving the negatives" .

Political speech is protected by the Constitution of the United States and it is rare that a wronged candidate sues for slander after an election season is concluded. Laws were introduced in the UK to prevent untrue statements being made about candidates—see Miranda Grell for a 2007 case.

Political candidates have been accused by their opponents of virtually every sin and crime ever described, from graft and vice to bribery and communism, polygamy, drug use, spousal abuse, fascism, pedophilia, miscegenation, adultery, stupidity, demagoguery, and support for nudism.

The story of dirty tricks in American politics begins with the first campaign for President of the United States, in the 1790s. Thomas Jefferson hired journalist and pamphleteer James Thomas Callender to slander his opponent, Alexander Hamilton. After a falling out, Callender turned on Jefferson and published attacks on his previous employer.

Watergate-era

U.S. President Richard Nixon giving a televised address explaining release of edited transcripts of the tapes on April 29, 1974

The Nixon Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CRP, often mocked as CREEP), a private, non-governmental campaign entity, used funds from its coffers to pay for, and later cover up, dirty tricks performed against opponents by Richard Nixon's employee, Donald Segretti. Segretti famously coined the term 'ratfucking' for recruiting conservative members to infiltrate opposition groups (and/or misrepresent them through false flag activities) in order to undermine the effectiveness of such opposition.[1]

As a result of post-Watergate reform legislation, such activities are strictly regulated, though other private entities still may practice what has become commonly referred to as questionable or unethical dirty tricks.

Recent nomenclature equates a Dirty Tricks Squad to any organized, covert attempt to besmirch the credibility or reputation of an individual or organization so as to render them ineffective.

Non-electoral politics

In the United Kingdom the term "dirty tricks" became, for a while, synonymous with the British Airways campaign against rival Virgin Atlantic and the wider business interest of the airline's chairman Richard Branson. British Airways, faced with likely defeat, apologised "unreservedly" in court and settled the case, giving £500,000 to Branson and a further £110,000 to his airline; further, BA was to pay the legal fees of up to £3 million. Branson divided his compensation among his staff, calling it the "BA bonus".

In 1990, a political scandal in which Shimon Peres tried to bring down the Likud-led government of Israel and establish an Alignment-led one later became known as the dirty trick. The term was used by Yitzhak Rabin during an interview.[2]

See also

References

  1. ^ Adler, Carmen Deltoro ; foreword by Yolanda Torrisi (2006). English through movies: All the President's men: a case history, politics and the press. Madrid: Dykinson. p. 98.  
  2. ^ "The dirty trick". msn.co.il (in עברית). Retrieved 2008-06-11. 

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.