"A new dirty tricks campaign to embarrass the Democratic frontrunner, John Kerry, backfired ignominiously yesterday when it emerged that a widely circulated photograph of a protest against the Vietnam war was a crude forgery," reports Suzanne Goldenberg. "The photograph, falsely credited to Associated Press, combined two separate images to make it appear as if Mr Kerry shared a stage at an anti-war rally in the early 1970s with the actress, Jane Fonda." The fabricated photos are not the only recent attempt to smear Kerry.
What went wrong in the Howard Dean campaign, which looked like a winner until voters showed up at the primaries? Maybe Dean was never really ahead, says Clay Shirky. A senior Dean campaign aide agrees: "Even though we looked like an 800-pound gorilla, we were still growing up. We were like the big lanky teenager that looked like a grown man." And why did the media think otherwise?
A Republican effort to suppress the black vote may be linked to black preacher Al Sharpton's campaign in the 2004 Democratic presidential primary. Sharpton has postured as a radical firebrand, accusing other Democratic candidates such as Howard Dean of racial bias. According to reporter Wayne Barrett, "Roger Stone, the longtime Republican dirty-tricks operative who led the mob that shut down the Miami-Dade County recount and helped make George W. Bush president in 2000, is financing, staffing, and orchestrating the presidential campaign of Reverend Al Sharpton. ...
Indonesia will hold its first-ever direct presidential elections in July 2004. Noting that Indonesia is "a thriving democracy where public opinion matters," a partner in the Jakarta-based PR firm Maverick writes in today's Jakarta Post that "the more forward-thinking" candidates "have already appointed their image gurus." Not every candidate will clean up well, though.
Today's New York Times quotes an unnamed Republican "close to the Bush campaign" who says the timing of the State of the Union speech -- one day after the Iowa caucuses -- is no accident.
"The rise of Tony Feather from congressional intern to successful lobbyist is a story of loyalty, of good deeds rewarded -- and of Republicans taking care of their own," the Washington Post writes.
According to Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark's pollster Geoff Garin, Clark appeals less to women than men voters. Part of the campaign's effort to decrease this "gender gap" is to change Clark's wardrobe. "Gone are his navy blue suit, red tie and loafers, replaced by argyle sweaters, corduroys and duck books," reports the New York Times.
The Republican National Committee is complaining about advertisements comparing George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler that were posted briefly on on MoveOn.org's "Bush in 30 Seconds" web site, which invites people to submit their own creative TV spots criticizing the Bush administration's performance. MoveOn has responded that the ads were submissions to their contest and that it is "deliberately and maliciously misleading" to accuse MoveOn of "sponsoring" them.
Jay Rosen thinks coverage of the 2004 presidential election is shaping up as an exercise in "Horse Race Now! Horse Race Tomorrow! Horse Race Forever!" In this time-dishonored tradition of political journalism, reporters use sports as a metaphor for reporting on politics, relying for insights on political insiders who have learned how to spin the "race" as a game of "inside baseball." The result: "An army of sentries encircles the game, guarding every situation from which a glimmer of fresh truth might be allowed to escape."
Columnist Paul Krugman is wondering if the news media will take its job seriously when reporting on the 2004 elections and offers some suggestions to reporters: "Don't talk about clothes." "Actually look at the candidates' policy proposals." "Beware of personal anecdotes." "Look at the candidates' records." "Don't fall for political histrionics." "It's not about you." Although this is all pretty basic advice, concludes, "I don't really expect my journalistic colleagues to follow these rules. ...