Have you heard the one about shady White House dealings that saved a college basketball coach’s job? The eMail rumor about Oregon State University coach Craig Robinson—President Obama’s brother-in-law—was read by millions on the web in March, serving as the latest example of how viral internet gossip can catch university officials off guard.
An eMail message charging that the Obama administration had pledged $17 million in stimulus funds to Oregon State as long as the university retained Robinson spread to web sites, blogs, and in-boxes under the subject lines “Stimulus Does Work” or “Stimulus Money…One Job Saved.” The message claimed that Robinson’s job was in danger, so the White House dispatched a Department of Education official to arrange a special stimulus award as part of an unreported quid pro quo.
The viral message stirred up so many questions that Oregon State officials had to debunk the rumor with an official statement released March 23.
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