New Attack Ad Sets Dangerous Precedent

Political campaigning can be a cynical business, but this takes things to a whole new level. Check out this ad by Republican Timothy Hugo of the Virginia House of Delegates. The ad quotes "others" as saying that Democrat Rex Simmons ran "the most cowardly campaign I have ever seen.... Rex was spreading lies..... Rex has been lying to voters the entire campaign." But, that's not the shocking part.

In the ad, the only source given for this is "", the progressive political blog Raising Kaine. The issue, though, is that none of those comments ever appeared on Instead, they were buried deep in the site on an entry in a pseudonymous diary. This entry was not written by one of the blog's organizers, and it never appeared on the homepage. And, of course, these quotes were taken completely out of context. (To be fair, though, this is a little different than Hugo having quoted a commenter on a blog post--as the Washington Post implied in its coverage--although it's not far from it).

This ad is incredibly misleading and unethical, and if it is allowed to continue to run, it raises a dangerous precedent. If this is acceptable political behavior, then what would stop a candidate from quoting some anonymous commenter on The Scientific Activist and attributing what he or she wrote to me... even if this commenter wrote exactly the opposite of what I had written?

Nothing, as far as I can tell.

For more on the story, check out these entries from Raising Kaine.

More like this

Yesterday, Barack Obama won all three contests (Maryland, Virginia, and DC) in the "Potomac Primary", all by sizable margins. This means that he has won all eight contests that have occurred since Super Tuesday. He now leads the delegate race--even when superdelegates are included--and he…
(I think that I'm done updating this post for now, as the results show no indication of changing significantly. I'll have more to say about the election tomorrow.) A Democratic majority in the Senate is all but certain, as Montana and Virginia both appear to have gone to the Democrats. This means…
You've probably noticed that I haven't been blogging much lately. That's partly because this is an especially busy time of the semester. Try grading a thousand midterm exam problems in a few days and see how many brain cells you have left over for blogging. Mostly, though, it's my general…
In a few minutes, I will post the interview with Sen. John Edwards on this blog. All the questions are related to science (and yes, it was not easy to cut down the number of questions and the length of each question - there is so much to ask) so they should be of interest to the readers of this…

OK--I am going to run for President based on a quote from this blog--namely from this very comment: what if I said here that 'Nick is a poopy-head'? You said it, Nick. Nick is a poopy-head. There has to be a Supreme Court ruling eventually to strike down any such claim, with triple damages at the very least. The real problem is that legal opinion hardly moves at internet speed, and I doubt that it ever can catch up with current events. There are lawyers on the other side making mischief, and I wonder whether those on the side of the angels will have the resources to fight back effectively and in a timely manner.

With so many good comments to choose from--especially lately--, how will the opposition know what to attribute to you in their attack ads?

By Meredith M. Clancy (not verified) on 24 Sep 2007 #permalink