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“Roorback” is a false, dirty or slanderous story used for political advantage, usually about a candidate seeking political office.

It’s a classic dirty trick.

In 1940 the Chicago Tribune offered this definition:

A roorback is a false report about some alleged misdeed in a candidate’s past, often based on forged evidence, circulated in the final days of a campaign. It is timed for climactic effect when the candidate will not be able to expose the fraud before the voters go to the polls.

Its origin dates back to the 19th century during the U.S. presidential election of 1844, where an alleged Baron von Roorback authored a fabricated story detrimental to candidate James K. Polk.

The term has since become synonymous with deceptive political tactics aimed at spreading misinformation or propaganda to mislead the public and sway electoral outcomes.

In modern politics, roorbacks continue to be a concern, especially with the advent of digital media which can rapidly propagate false narratives.

The proliferation of social media platforms facilitates the rapid spread of false information, making it harder to distinguish genuine criticisms from fabricated accusations.

Use of “Roorback” in a sentence

  • The seasoned politician was no stranger to the rough-and-tumble of campaigns, but the latest roorback alleging financial misconduct seemed to dent his previously unshakeable support base.
  • As the election date neared, the opposing campaign launched a roorback about supposed illicit dealings, attempting to cast a long shadow of doubt among undecided voters.
  • The city council candidate vehemently denied the allegations brought forth in the recent roorback, labeling them as desperate attempts to tarnish his reputation amidst a tight race.