Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Campaign Trickery Thrives in Dueling Online Postings; Networks of Friends and Web Sites Are Having Serious Fun with Candidates

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Campaign Trickery Thrives in Dueling Online Postings; Networks of Friends and Web Sites Are Having Serious Fun with Candidates

Article excerpt

Byline: WALTER C. JONES

ATLANTA -- Georgia campaign trickery has entered the next level, what some might call the "Laugh In," thanks to new technology.

Some time ago, it became common for campaigns to regularly sweep their offices for electronic bugs planted by opponents. But the new techniques like anonymous blog postings and Wikipedia tampering may be even more effective than listening devices.

Consider a little fun created by a pair of dueling Web sites as reported by Dick Petty's Insider Advantage, a daily online political newsletter.

First, Gov. Sonny Perdue's campaign site allowed supporters to download a cell phone ringtone that played the music from his TV commercials. So, the Democratic Party of Georgia linked to it from the party's site to give their diehards a chuckle as they suggested a twist on the meaning of the lyrics.

In turn, Perdue's folks intercepted the Democrats' link and put in its place a gag photo of Democratic Party Chairman Bobby Kahn. That prompted the Democrats to merely download the ringtone jingle for addition to their own site instead of the uncontrollable link.

Over at the Mark Taylor campaign, the staff whipped up a brief, zero-budget video of crude hand puppets and fake vocal imitations that spoofed a telephone news conference hosted by Cathy Cox's staff the previous day. It was produced very quickly and e-mailed to reporters to blunt the attack intended in Cox's conference call.

Three features stand out in the puppet video. First, it didn't contain a formal statement of who produced it, what broadcasters call a "disclaimer." Reporters who got the original video knew where it came from, but the copies that wound up on blogs and e-mails around the state probably didn't include any of that documentation required by state election laws.

Second, it contained the actual audio recording of a portion of the conference call. That could only have been obtained by either posing as a reporter to get a password to the conference, or by some unscrupulous reporter who shared a tape with a campaign operative. …

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