Time has some more information on Obama’s effort to fight internet smears which I mentioned a couple of days ago. The plan includes a web site which debunks the smears, but other campaigns have also done this in the past. The campaign also plans to enlist supporters to help:
Obama is enlisting his millions of supporters to help him hunt down and quash these stories, just as those supporters helped him turn his insurgent campaign into a history-making juggernaut. Says Obama adviser Anita Dunn: “We will not allow Michelle — or, for that matter, Barack—to be defined by rumors.”
For more than a year, Obama relied on conventional means to confront the blogosphere’s superheated rumor mill—to little effect. The “fact-check” feature on his website, for instance, only seemed to spawn more, and wilder, rumors. A mention there of Obama’s birth certificate spurred National Review Online to demand that he produce it to dispel groundless reports that Obama was actually born in Kenya and therefore would be constitutionally ineligible to be President; that his middle name is not Hussein but Muhammad; and that his mother actually named him Barry. That National Review article in turn became fodder for cable television.
According to campaign officials, what finally launched Obama into a full rumor counteroffensive was a story that apparently first made a big splash on the Internet in late May in a post by pro-Hillary Clinton blogger Larry Johnson. Quoting “someone in touch with a senior Republican,” Johnson claimed that there was a video of Michelle Obama “blasting ‘whitey’ during a rant at Jeremiah Wright’s church.” (Later versions of the rumor had Michelle’s “rant” happening at a Rainbow/push Coalition conference.) No such videotape has surfaced.
Even enlisting supporters to help fight rumors is nothing new, but perhaps Obama’s campaign can do a more effective job. Unfortunately there probably is no totally new way to fight these smears.