Send As SMS

January 18, 2003

Who's Manipulating the Letters to the Editors Page???

The GOP, apparently, as several bloggers and other netizens have already pointed out. It's fair play, I suppose, to urge your fellow travelers to write letters to newspapers and even to give them talking points to guide their writing, but this goes well beyond that. Over the last three weeks, the following lettter has appeared verbatim all over the country, each signed (presumably) by a local reader. Here's the letter:

When it comes to the economy, President Bush is demonstrating genuine leadership. The economic growth package he recently proposed takes us in the right direction by accelerating the successful tax cuts of 2001, providing marriage-penalty relief and providing incentives for individuals and small businesses to save and invest.

Contrary to the class-warfare rhetoric attacking the presidentís plan, the proposal helps everyone who pays taxes, and especially the middle class. This year alone, 92 million taxpayers will receive an immediate tax cut averaging $1,083, and 46 million married couples will get back an average of $1,714. Thatís not pocket change for a family struggling through uncertain economic times. Combined with the presidentís new initiatives to help the unemployed, this plan gets people back to work and helps every sector of our economy.


I Googled for "the proposal helps everyone who pays taxes", to see the extent of this spamming. Here's what I've found:


"AUTHOR"PUBLICATION
Sarah Kocal, Grayslake IL The News Sun, Waukegan IL
Kyle Klink, Rochester NYWHEC-TV, Rochester NY
Trevor Carlson, Santa Rosa CAPress Democrat, Santa Cruz CA
John Pinckney, Muncie INStar Press, Muncie IN
Stephanie Johnson, Milton MABoston Globe, Boston MA
David O'Connor, Jericho VTRutland Herald, Rutland VT
Sandra Rauschhuber, Boulder Creek CASanta Cruz Sentinel, CA
Nick Koszykowski, Dodgeville MIThe Daily Mining Gazette, MI
Edward T. Kranick, Appleton WIGreen Bay Press Gazette, WI
Scott L. Herrin, Blue Rapids, KSThe Manhattan Mercury, KS
Derick Mfoafo, Lynchburg VAThe Lynchburg Ledger, VA
Michael Snyder, Merced CAMerced Sun-Star, CA
David Bednarski, Wausau WIWausau Daily Herald, WI
Charles J. Long, Berrien Springs INSouth Bend Tribune, IN
Nile Gomez, Secaucus NJThe Jersey Journey, NJ
Debra Bauer, Carpentersville ILThe Courier News, IL
Donna Zahner, Cape Girardeau MOThe SE Missourian, MO
Robert Lowery, Victoria TXThe Victoria Advocate, TX
Philip Patzkowski, Kingston NYTimes Herald-Record, NY
Dirk M. Maurins, Hawaii Kai HIHonolulu Star Bulletin, HI
Jennifer R, Sheboygan WISheboygan Press, WI
Jeff Mellor, Knoxville TNKnoxville News Sentinel, TN


They're all identical! Either these Republiclones are completely bereft of imagination and unable to give the letter a local spin or personal voice or... more sinister... the authors are all fictitious. Either way, this strikes me as a disingenuous way to warp public opinion. They're trying to make it look as though ordinary people support a policy that doesn't really help ordinary people. Let's not be fooled.

Postscript: This isn't the first time this has happened. In November and December, another letter crowing about the midterm elections appeared in 34 papers. Failure Is Impossible has the list and some advice on how to respond. I've written the editors of each of the publications on the list above urging them to check Google before falling for this again.