Media Matters has a primer on how a story like ACORN, Climategate, “death panels,” the New Black Panthers, or any other shiny object that catches the attention of the wingnuts goes.
1. Right-wing bloggers, talk radio hosts, and other conservative media outlets start promoting and distorting the story.
2. Fox News picks up the story and gives it heavy, one-sided coverage.
3. Fox News and conservative media attack the “liberal media” for ignoring the distorted story.
4. Mainstream media outlets eventually cover the story, echoing the right-wing distortions.
5. Fox News receives credit for promoting the story.
6. The story is later proven to be false or wildly misleading, long after damage is done.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
HT to digby.