CLEVELAND (TDB) -- By now, everybody seems to have an opinion about the New Yorker's satirical magazine cover. Meanwhile, Snopes.com -- a much-visited Web site that tracks urban legends and separates fact from fiction -- is reporting Internet-hyped rumors about Illinois Sen. Barack Obama this week (July 16) are atop its list of the Hottest 25 Urban Legends. Mostly, the rumors are untrue, though they are widely spread by e-mail.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Randy Salas noticed last January that Obama led the Snopes' list that month. Clearly, things on the urban legend front haven't changed since the thaw, summer's arrival and Obama's victory in the Democratic presidential primaries. Back then, Salas said:
"While noting that Obama's pre-political life has been unusual and interesting, Snopes adds: 'Much of the information presented . . . about his background is distorted and exaggerated, however, and no evidence supports a claim that Obama is currently, or ever has been, a Muslim (radical or otherwise).'"
Salas report from seven months ago is here. And the Snopes list of the current Hottest 25 Urban Legends is here. There is concern in some quarters that The New Yorker's satirical cover might backfire and convince some rubes that Obama is indeed the Muslim radical portrayed in the cartoon. But that might be overblown. Americans have been hearing exaggerated tales about Obama for a long stretch. And he's been able to win at the polls. He even defeated a prohibitive favorite, Hillary Clinton.