On “fake” fly-by-night news
as campaign tools:
The NRCC’s single-page sites are designed to appear to be a local news portal, with logos like “North County Update” or “Central Valley Update.” The articles begin in the impartial voice of a political fact-checking site, hoping to lure in readers. “We’ll take a look at her record and let you decide,” starts one. Then they gradually morph into more biting language. At the very bottom, in a box, is the disclaimer that the NRCC paid for the site.
A perfect plan! And unassailable within its horrible context: The intent is to mislead, obviously, but that is true of literally every political ad; the disclosure is present, because it has to be; the “trick” is not totally revealed before the end of the story, where nobody will ever see it, but where everyone agrees, obviously, that people should have seen it, and cetainly they would have seen it, because they read and process everything with reason and rigor; by the time an ideological opponent (your online acquaintance, friend, or family member) notices and comments or emails back saying, “this is and ad designed to look like a story,” it will be too late. Point made, message spread. Why dwell on your mistakes?