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|Today's Take: NCR's daily Web column|
|Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news. It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.|
|September 18, 2003||
Vol. 1, No. 113
Putting the Web to work
Dennis Coday, NCR staff writer
Politics has been on the Internet since its beginning. Even before the World Wide Web, when techies, geeks and academics were the sole inhabitants of the Internet, there were bulletin boards and discussion groups dedicated to politics of all stripes and persuasions.
The Web and browers enhanced these boards and groups, making them more friendly and popular, so that today every political candidate (certainly every candidate for national office) has a Web site. Among the current presidential candidates, Howard Dean has proven to be most Web-savvy, making deanforpresident.com his primary fundraising tool and chief means of communication of his crowd of activists and supporters. Political parties have their Web sites. Causes have their Web sites.
Too often, political Web sites (especially those of political candidates) tend to be little more than electronic file cabinets stuffed with copies of position papers, old speeches and photographs of candidates shaking hands and kissing babies.
This week emerged a new political Web site that has the potential to show how the Internet can be a powerful information tool within political debate. Sept. 14 was the first day in Cyberspace for misleader.org, which its banner says is "a daily chronicle of Bush Administration distortion."
Everyday, the site will examine a different topic, using the very words of Bush and his gang. So far the Web site has addressed three topics:
Pondering the 16 untrue words about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in President Bush's state of the union address, the founders of the site starting looking more closely at the other 5,397 words of the address. They found other misleading information, and they wanted to let people know. Misleader.org was born.
Misleader.org is a project of Moveon.org, founded in 1998 by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs (Wes Boyd and his wife Joan Blades made a fortune with their flying toaster computer screen savers.) to support progressive causes. This year, MoveOn generated a million phone calls and e-mails to Congress protesting the Iraq war and catalyzed thousands of candlelight vigils around the world. According to the Washington Post, the MoveOn political action committee has raised $6.5 million.
Can misleader.org keep Washington spin doctors honest? Can such an effort have an influence? Well, if you happened to catch Vice President Dick Cheney making the talk show rounds on the weekend, you heard him say that that he was not surprised that 7 out of 10 Americans think Saddam Hussein was behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Well, yesterday, -- this is probably a coincidence, probably unrelated, but -- President Bush told Washington reporters that he had seen no evidence linking Sadaam Hussein and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The day before, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had said the same.
Are they correcting Cheney's misleading statements?
Dennis Coday is an NCR staff writer and coordinates NCR's Web site. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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