'People in crisis have a need to create enemies'

Oregon State head basketball coach Craig Robinson looks to the scoreboard during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game »Play Video
Oregon State head basketball coach Craig Robinson looks to the scoreboard during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game against UCLA in Corvallis, Ore., Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010. Photo courtesy Don Ryan, Associated Press.

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- The road from Gill Coliseum to the White House isn't that long.

Oregon State University head men's basketball coach Craig Robinson is also President Obama's brother-in-law and helped campaign for him back in 2008.

A rumor is making the rounds of the Internet saying Robinson is getting special treatment because of his family ties.

The message claims Robinson's job was in jeopardy until the Department of Education sent OSU $17 million in stimulus money to fund the position.

The rumor got so out of hand that OSU is speaking out against the rumor, calling it baseless.

"This one had become problematic for us enough and was intruding into enough conversations between the university and our constituents that we ultimately decided we needed to take it on ourselves," OSU spokesperson Todd Simmons said.

Robert Iltis is the chair of the Department of Speech communication at OSU. Iltis said these kind of rumors can have a tremendous impact on a community even if they are not true. According to Iltis, people are more likely to believe things they wish were true.

"They spread so quickly because people in crisis have a need to create enemies," Iltis said.
    
The Internet is full facts and fiction. So how do you separate the two? Check your facts. Check the source. Search urban legends, so you can be the expert that stops the spread of misinformation just like OSU did this week.

Resources: FactCheck.org | Snopes