Even with all the melee over hockey moms and plumbers and fake registration cards, technology has been a dominating story in this campaign. The candidates have used it, and benefited from it, in varying degrees (campaign ads in video games may take the cake), and the Web has taken its place as a major game changer in American politics. But there was always the lingering downside: Just as the Internet can build you up, so can it rip you down.
In fact, this campaign has seen the highest number of Internet smears in history—hardly surprising given the continually-increasing reach and scope of the medium. So how do these intrepid (and extremely overworked) political staffers manage to scour the reaches of the Internet and counter all the garbage thrown at their candidates?
A source inside Obama’s campaign spoke to DISCOVER, and explained the Democratic team’s strategy as follows:
We have a really good research and rapid response team, and they work really closely with the new media team on this kind of [stuff]. They spend a lot of daily time scouring the Internet looking for fraud, lies, copyright infringement, etc. The big public piece of this is fightthesmears.com—a major component of which is a big grassroots group (The Obama Actionwire) who are a big team of volunteers who have signed up to help spread the truth about [the rumors] when they hit.
Granted, there’s only so much mere mortals can do: A Google search for “Obama” and “terrorist” at one point reportedly yielded over 8 million results (it now brings up fewer than 1 million). Plus there’s the ugly fact that once misinformation is out there, it may be futile to try and clean it up.