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POLITICAL ATTACK
MoveOn.org reaches a milestone: Rousing Republican ire
BY DAVID S. BERNSTEIN

Without a Democratic president to beat up on over the past three years, and with a few months to go before an official Democratic presidential candidate is chosen, the Republican National Committee apparently needs to make sure its shout-down tactics and demonization skills havenít gotten rusty. Why else would the RNC launch a full-scale attack on the liberal organization MoveOn.org for temporarily letting a couple of offensive items onto one of its Web sites?

MoveOn.orgís leadership is apoplectic, but they should be flattered. RNCís venom-spewing is a sure sign that the once-little organization has attained political importance.

The brouhaha sprang from a MoveOn.org contest, which asked people submit their own George W. Bush opposition ads. One winning submission will air nationally. Not surprisingly, some of the raw submissions were more, shall we say, extreme than others. Two that came in and got posted on the competition Web site explicitly compare Bush to Adolf Hitler.

Although both those submissions lost and were quickly removed from the site, the RNC is making a national stink about it. On Sunday, RNC chair Ed Gillespie condemned the offense on Fox News Sunday. Press releases followed; itís the "Top Story" on the RNC Web site, which demands an apology even though MoveOn.org founder Wes Boyd has already issued one.

MoveOn.org has responded with considerable indignation, blasting out press releases and e-mails to members, and setting up a Web site to "help us track inaccurate reporting on this story." But the groupís indignation doesnít hold much water; it screwed up. It screened submissions to keep offensive ads out of the contest, and missed these two. "We ... deeply regret that they slipped through our screening process," Boyd said in a statement, adding that in future contests "we will create a more effective filtering system."

MoveOn.org goofed, and the RNC showed it what awaits politically relevant organizations that goof. Welcome to politics.


Issue Date: January 9 - 15, 2004
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