Is it a smear campaign if it is the truth?

smear

verb
1.
coat or mark (something) messily or carelessly with a greasy or sticky substance.
“his face was smeared with dirt”
synonyms: streak, smudge, stain, mark, soil, dirty; More
2.
damage the reputation of (someone) by false accusations; slander.
“someone was trying to smear her by faking letters”
synonyms: sully, tarnish, besmirch, blacken, drag through the mud/mire, stain, taint, damage, defame, discredit, defile, vilify, malign, slander, libel, stigmatize, calumniate;

Is it a smear campaign if it is the truth?

It has always fascinated me reading on left wing blogs about what they call ” dirty politics smears” even when the subject of the so-called smear has admitted publicly that it was the truth. I refer of course to Len Brown. Whaleoil was described by them as being evil and dirty for revealing the truth about Len Brown’s behaviour and his use of council property and money to conduct his affair. Was it a real smear though? Isn’t a smear dirty precisely because it is based on innuendo and gossip rather than substantiated facts like the signed affidavit that Whaleoil had in its possession?

How much does motivation and intent count in your mind? Out of my two hypothetical examples below is either a smear campaign in your mind?

Example One: I discover written evidence that my friend’s husband is being unfaithful to her with his secretary. I am very conflicted about revealing the truth as she is unlikely to welcome the news and may want to shoot the messenger.

I decide to approach her husband’s parents to show them the letter and to see what they think I should do. The parents admit that they have both suspected something was wrong for a while and his Mum says she had observed him acting inappropriately with his secretary. She tells me she has spoken to him about it but he denied that anything was going on. They, don’t want me to say anything as they are worried about losing access to their grandchildren if their son gets divorced.

I decide to pin the letter to a notice board where he works to get the truth out. My motivation and intent are to reveal the truth so that my friend will not longer be ignorant of it so that she can make her own decision about what to do about him.

Example two:I discover written evidence that my enemy’s husband is being unfaithful to her with his secretary. I am gleeful about revealing the truth. 

I decide to approach her husband’s parents to show them the letter. The parents admit that they have both suspected something was wrong for a while and his Mum says she had observed him acting inappropriately with his secretary. She tells me she has spoken to him about it but he denied that anything was going on. They don’t want me to say anything as they are worried about losing access to their grandchildren if their son gets divorced.

I decide to pin the letter to a notice board where he works to get the truth out. My motivation and intent are to reveal the truth so that my enemy will be miserable.


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