May 15, 2004 7:43 AM   Subscribe

Inside the shadowy world of oppo. Interesting long article from the Atlantic about playing dirty in US election campaigns. "We think of ourselves as the creators of the ammunition in a war. We make the bullets."
posted by CunningLinguist (9 comments total)
Especially in a presidential election "you have to plant a lot of the seeds in the spring and the summer so that you can capitalize on it," Lehane says. "If you have a big story that's going to hit in the middle of September, middle of October, what you really want to do is build several things that come off of the story so that it's not just a one-day hit. If the story runs on the front page of a major paper, you also want to set it up so that it hits some of the television morning shows, and from there you want to have surrogates [friendly talking heads] out the next day, so that you get a second hit. On the third day, ideally, you have some additional information you've been holding back that you can feed into it [to prompt] another round of stories. On the fourth or fifth day you try to hold your candidate back from saying anything, so that eventually, when he does say something about the issue, you get another round of stories. If you do it effectively, you can basically wipe out a guy's entire week—he'll spend the entire week responding to a story that showed up on a Monday." In the heat of the campaign season each week is critical. Not only can a well-orchestrated hit knock an opponent off stride, it can solidify an impression that the many voters just tuning in to the election will carry into the voting booth.

This paragraph caught my attention because of these two articles.

Further, this:

Democrats may not have been successful using research against Bush, but they have fared much better deploying it against each other. One prominent Democrat has already fallen victim this year—though the attack was orchestrated within his own party.

Proving, once again, that the Democrats are far more unstable and inconsistent than the Republicans and this:

The operatives' sophisticated understanding of the media and their ability to manipulate the reporting of political news helps explain how Gore's public image shifted from that of stiff but competent technocrat at the outset of the campaign to that of serial exaggerator who would say anything to get elected. The steady stream of stories reinforcing this notion took its toll—a fact neatly documented by the filmmakers' shot of the New York Post after the debate: Gore beneath the headline "LIAR! LIAR!"

Proving that the election wasn't Gore's to lose, even though both Dems and Repubs claim this constantly.

Great article, great post.
posted by BlueTrain at 8:43 AM on May 15, 2004

george w. bush: stable and consistent
posted by quonsar at 8:47 AM on May 15, 2004


Politics curdled my milk and scalded my cat. Can we throw out the baby with the bathwater yet? Am I allowed to cast all my votes for dancing yet or is that still verboten?

No, I don't care. As an independent the Reps and Dems make me sick. Hell, most politicians make me ill. Dumb, power-seeking hu-mon meatsnacks. It'll only burn you. What are you? A moth? You gonna keep singing your wings on that floodlight until you die? Sorry, dumb question. Carry on, then.

George W. Bush: Consistently evil.
posted by loquacious at 9:04 AM on May 15, 2004

The article doesn't even make it to the second paragraph before repeating a lie about Gore - that he claims to have invented the Internet. Newt Gingrich agrees that Gore really did work to help form the Internet we know today:

GINGRICH: In all fairness, it’s something Gore had worked on a long time. Gore is not the Father of the Internet, but in all fairness, Gore is the person who, in the Congress, most systematically worked to make sure that we got to an Internet, and the truth is—and I worked with him starting in 1978 when I got [to Congress], we were both part of a “futures group”—the fact is, in the Clinton administration, the world we had talked about in the ’80s began to actually happen.

Well, at least there's one good thing about this article: it points out just how good the RNC is at turning fiction into fact.
posted by punishinglemur at 9:32 AM on May 15, 2004

it points out just how good the RNC is at turning fiction into fact.

Indeed. How else could the Bush-Cheney ticket actually steer the media towards questioning John Kerry's military record?
posted by clevershark at 10:05 AM on May 15, 2004

heh. quality journalism for the Atlantic -- I'm disappointed, it's usually way, way better than that. anyway, let's beat the undead horse again:

Claim: Vice-President Al Gore claimed that he "invented" the Internet.
Status: False.

by Kathleen Hall Jamieson,
Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications
University of Pennsylvania

my favorite attack ad? I love LBJ's daisies:

"These are the stakes! To make a world in which all of God's children can live"
posted by matteo at 12:43 PM on May 15, 2004

And don't miss Brian Springer's Spin, which takes a look at the nasty behind-the-cameras stuff from the 1992 election.
posted by SteelyDuran at 1:12 PM on May 15, 2004

Great link, SteelyDuran. That's amazing.
posted by punishinglemur at 3:52 PM on May 15, 2004

Quite interesting indeed. Such research groups really seem to be a good tool for politicians. On a more mundane note, it appears that holding a sign (14 May) which reads F U G W (Free Us of course) while a president is visiting a city can land you in jail for a short while in order to protect childrens maybe. I wonder what could protect adults from the research groups.
posted by elpapacito at 7:59 PM on May 15, 2004

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