McCain Camp Employs Comment Spam

Rewards supporters for pasting talking points

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At what point does campaigning become propaganda? Immediately? When does shrewd and savvy cross the line to become just plain yick? Senator John McCain’s campaign squad doesn’t seem all that concerned about these questions; blog comment spam these days is just part of the political landscape.

If the landscape consists of AstroTurf, anyway.

Spread The Word

At McCain’s website, supporters are urged to spread the word about McCain and his proposed policies by copying and pasting campaign talking points into the comments on blogs and websites.

Here’s an example, from "Today’s Talking Points":

John McCain has a comprehensive economic plan that will create millions of good American jobs, ensure our nation’s energy security, get the government’s budget and spending practices in order, and bring relief to American consumers. Click to learn how the McCain Economic Plan will help bring reform, prosperity and peace to America.

The campaign makes suggestions about where to slap the talking points. Today’s featured blogs, for example are Red State, a conservative blog, Jeff Emanuel, also a conservative blog, and DailyKos, completely not a conservative blog.

Once a supporter has tackled those three, he or she can hit the suggested blog list to the right, divided by ideologies of conservative, liberal, moderate, or "other." McCain and his campaigners seem to be aware of 60 conservative blogs, 4 moderate ones, 14 "other" blogs, and 5 liberal.

Five liberal ones, where the opposing voice is perhaps needed most, campaign-speaking. One might think it’s equally pointless to run around slapping the modern equivalent of campaign bumper stickers on either conservative or liberal blogs—both sides seem immovably on one side or the other, the choir and Gomorrah, as it were. "Others" seems like a good call in the most unique and yet, most confusing, election in a long time, perhaps history, but Maverick there might want to be on the look out for some more moderate sites. Others and moderates will be the ones breaking the tie as usual.

Politics aside, what readies the red flags is not so much the call to action, the list of blogs to target, or the provided campaign talking points. It’s not even so much the open AstroTurf-iness of it. As the Washington Post notes, supporters compete for rewards. Those who parrot the best and most can earn points toward an autographed book, great seats at rallies, or a ride on the Straight Talk Express.

And that’s where, if it hadn’t already, the gut reaction goes yick. Double-yick after this apropos juxtaposition in the WaPo piece: "More chillingly, dissidents alleged earlier this year that the Chinese government has paid Chinese citizens token sums for each favorable comment about government policies they post in chat rooms and on blogs."

It’s yicky because, though not illegal, none of it’s real, and if it is, it’s kind of surreal and manipulative. It’s like buttons and bumper stickers, signs in the front yard, peaceful demonstrations, knocks on your door, messages on your machine—all that—but it’s also not like that. It’s like "grass roots" campaigns against Net Neutrality set up by AT&T. It’s a campaign resorting to comment spam, which is, if not abuse of liberty, taking liberties with liberty.

It’s not sincere, spontaneous commentary from concerned and passionate citizens; it’s compensated political mercenaries who’ve…well, it can’t be taken quite that far, can it? It’s freedom of speech at the end of the day, I suppose, and rather pointless speech at that if most of the targets are presumably on the McCain side already.

But it’s still kind of yicky, don’t you think?


McCain Camp Employs Comment Spam
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  • Guest

    am i missing something here?  who on earth is going to mistake one of those "talking points" for a spontaneous comment? 

    like who wouldn’t recognize bible verses written in Old English as not being something a normal person would say in a comment?

    crap, has anyone looked at those "talking points"???  if they were ever tried to be passed off as anything but, they would stick out by a mile to anyone.

  • Miriam

    In that spirit no one should miss


  • http://www.aditems.cn/ Advertising display and Digital photo frame

    why I should be here.

  • Guest

    Unfortunately, the republican party has proved time & time again that there are rewards to be had by playing dirty and ignoring the rules of decency. It’s no suprise to find John McCain down there with the rest of them.

    This crap works because for every intelligent reader there seems to be an ever increasing horde that just needs a bandwagon to climb on… and a flag-waving, gun-totin’ wagon driver appears to appeal to this group.



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