Targeting Internet Democracy. Did the Internet Select Bush



-- The George W. Bush Campaign's strategy to get their message out to the nations internet chat rooms and message boards appears to be a huge success. Edward Straight, chairman of Bush's internet operations staff, said his organization's latest research shows that fully 80 percent of messages favorable to Bush on Bush message boards are put there by paid staff of the Bush Campaign. Upwards of 40 percent of pro-Bush messages posted on other non-Bush controlled boards are posted by hired Bush public relations personnel, Straight said.

The entire operation is run out of basement offices in a downtown Pittsburgh, Pa. bank, Straight reports. "the cost advantages of this kind of campaign are enormous," said Straight. "For a few hundred thousand dollars we have been able to hire nearly 400 internet users to repost our campaign materials and to maintain a presence on all message boards."

"Make no mistake about it," Straight said, "The postings you see extolling and defending the candidacy of George W. Bush Jr. are not for the most part posted by amateurs -- they're paid professional and there are a lot of them. We think they're doing a bang up job."

He said the first goal of Bush public relations staff is to post a lot of messages. "The paid posters thus make it seem as though there is overwhelming support for the candidate," We have the money to bury the opposition and we're prepared to shovel tons of it into the effort," he said. The second major goal of the Bush Internet 2000 team is to smear President Clinton and Vice President Gore and, increasingly, Bill Bradley, Straight said. "We'd also like them to go after the other candidate's posters and rough them up a little bit to show them that we mean business," added Straight.

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