Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Uncovered: A Republican Plot to Steal the US Elections?

The most consequential news story in the US (at the website of the Washington Post, it’s presently the paper's “most viewed” article) -- was reported first not by the mainstream media, but by the blogosphere.

The report concerns alleged criminal activity by a US Republican Party outfit that could conceivably impact the outcome of today’s elections. One blogger who broke the story was Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo. Josh Marshall provides a concise explanation of the “Robocalling” scandal:
Most of the call's script is a fairly standard attack robocall, a series of Republican talking points aimed at the Democratic congressional in a particular district. Nothing particularly noteworthy. The key is the introduction. The lead into the call starts with the speaker saying 'I'm calling with information about' Dem candidate X. Then there's a short pause.

At this point, you know it's an annoying robocall, so a lot of people just hang up. If you hang up then, you think it's a call from the Democratic candidate. Second, the repetition. And this part is the key. If you don't listen through the whole message, the machine keeps calling you back, often well in excess of half a dozen times with the same call. It only stops if you listen all the way through. As you can imagine, that's driving a lot of people through the roof.

According to a reporter on MSNBC, if successful, the law suit that is being launched by the Democratic Party against the Republican Party could inflict heavy punitive damages as the fine for a even single violation of the election law is $500 per phone call violation in some states. Josh has more on the story at his blog.

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