Obama Camp Takes On Internet Rumors

(CBS)
From CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic:

CHICAGO -- The Obama campaign launched a new Web site today to combat Internet rumors and what they call a "smear" campaign against both Michelle and Barack Obama. The website, www.fightthesmears.com, is being run by current staff in the communications, policy and research departments.

The first rumor to be addressed head on by the campaign is Michelle Obama's alleged use of the word "whitey" from the pulpit at Trinity United, which some conservative bloggers claim to have on tape. The campaign denies that such a tape exists on the new Web site. Last week, when Obama was asked about Internet rumors, including the "whitey" comment, he blamed the mainstream media for giving the story "legs."

Visibly annoyed by the question, Obama told one reporter, "There is dirt and lies that are circulated in e-mail and they pump them out long enough until finally you, a mainstream reporter, asks me about them. And then that gives legs to the story."

Obama added, "Simply because something appears in an e-mail that should lend it no more credence then if you heard it on the corner. And, presumably the job of the press is to not go around and spread scurrilous rumors like this until there's actually anything, one iota of substance or evidence that would substantiate it."

However, despite Obama's dismissal of internet rumors and e-mails, the campaign admits that the issues need to be addressed. Some of these emails, such as those claiming that Obama is Muslim, have been circulated on the Internet since last October.

Spokeswoman, Jen Psaki said, "The best antidote to a smear campaign is the truth and it is incumbent upon the campaign to make sure the most accurate information about Barack Obama is available."

The new Web site has an additional tool designed to combat these rumors -- an option to send mass emails denying the Internet buzz. The campaign is looking to supporters to be more proactive and to disseminate information on their behalf.
  • Maria Gavrilovic

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