September 22, 2008

Are Obama or David Axelrod Responsible for Palin Smears? Some Thoughts and Reacts

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Lot's of blog reaction about the initial story that a major PR firm is most likely responsible for spreading smears about Sarah Palin, that the advertisement being spread has links to David "Astroturf" Axelrod and the Obama campaign, and that this is evidence of a broader effort organized from the top to spread false rumors about Obama's political enemies.

Let me get this out of the way: much of the hemming about whether or not "eswinner" is actually Ethan Winner and about whether or not Winner & Associates or other Publicis owned firms were behind the astroturfing campaign came on advice of counsel.

The original draft of the post had much stronger wording. No, I'm not 100% sure, but who ever is about anything?

I have a day job I have to attend to and my internet connection seems to be down as of this writing [what timing, right in the middle of writing this post!!], so those who have emailed or linked let me say -- thank you. I'm not ignoring you, I just have other commitments. Thankfully I have my iPhone so I can still get emails, but links will be difficult to check out right now [oops, that's odd, iPhone unable to connect to internet too. What's the deal with that? It's not using wi-fi lan connection].

I actually won't be able to publish this post until internet is back up. My fear is that information keeps coming in so fast that it will be stale before I'm able to comment on it. My other fear is that there are now so many independent blogs and readers out there with relevant information, that I won't be able to read it all and present the information in a coherent fashion.

So, here are some initial thoughts as of this AM.

If I had to merit a guess -- and this is sheer speculation -- I'd say that the video in question was probably produced by the Obama campaign itself. I'd guess it was produced immediately following the false allegations printed by the New York Times that Palin belonged to the Alaskan Independence Party.

I'd also guess that as soon as the New York Times retracted, that the campaign shelved the ad. As McCain's numbers surged post-convention and post-Palin, the Obama camp decided to "take the gloves off" and "get in the faces" of Republicans.

That is when someone decided that even though the allegations in the ad were false, that it was time to start spreading them anyway. This was seen as a legitimate response to false rumors about Obama being a Muslim or a closet communist already on the internet. A rumor, I should ad, that has not been carried by any of the top conservative blogs -- something that cannot be said about Palin/McCain smears on top leftwing blogs.

But the decision was also made that the allegations were so defamatory, that they could not be tied directly to the campaign. Hence, they subcontracted out the "astroturfing" work to mega-PR firm Publicis, or directly to W&A which is owned by Publicis.

It's a theory. To paraphrase Aragorn, I suppose a better one could be constructed.

Since Ace spent a lot of time on this acting as a sounding board for the initial draft, I'll go to his reaction first. He sent out a notice last night to the Democrats before I actually posted the evidence that we had the goods on the astroturfing campaign. He thinks that the speed at which the videos were yanked and accounts deleted is strong evidence that someone with the DNC or the Obama campaign tipped Winner off.

He also says, "This is just the tip of the iceberg." I happen to agree. Read the rest.

Dan Riehl, who also helped out by ripping the audio and by seeing the Facebook connection, has some thoughts here. Read it.

Michelle Malkin -- closet night owl -- stayed up into the wee hours of the night and backed up many of the YouTube pages as they were frantically being deleted. Check out her post.

Patterico has thoughts here.

Ed Morrissey, here.

Sorry about not linking others right now. I've read many posts with some good thoughts, but since internet is not working for me it's kind of hard to link. Will try to update later.

---Update: Obviously, internet restored. So I'm pushing the publish button, but work commitments remain. Sorry.

Update II by Howie: Rusty says,

I hope you got my message that internet is down. Can someone update my last post letting people know that?
Great timing, eh?

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 11:02 AM | Comments |