2/6/08

WP: Political Dirty Tricks Go Digital

Trust no email!
INTERNET INTRIGUE
Dirty Tricks, Version 2.0: E-Mail Sent to Friends

By Matthew Mosk

The last-minute chain e-mails arrived with unsolicited primary voting advice. One alerted recipients to Democratic Sen. Barack Obama's "alarming" views about Israel, another challenged Republican Sen. John McCain's account of his Vietnam War service. Another alleged that Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton opposed the Civil Rights Act as a teenager, even though she did not.

Campaign dirty tricks found a new outlet before the Super Tuesday voting, as several misleading attacks on presidential candidates were spread via cautionary last-minute mass e-mails among friends. On Monday night, those messages started arriving in many inboxes with subject lines such as "FW: Something to consider before voting tomorrow."

In e-mails forwarded to The Washington Post, senders attacked Republican Mitt Romney's Mormon faith, and offered a misleading account of Obama's voting record in the Illinois Senate. Some were unsigned and impossible to trace.

"Clearly, the speed of delivery has enabled these last-minute attacks to become much more potent," said Peter Pasi, an executive of Emotive LLC, a firm specializing in online communication strategies...

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