Bush's Spin Control Gets Caught in Web!

Bush's Spin Control Gets Caught in Web!
Posted by FoM on May 31, 1999 at 07:11:00 PT
Censoring online critics will fuel the fire!
Source: The Business Journal
Faced with rumors of alleged cocaine abuse, Texas Gov. George Bush is trying to cut off the Internet at the pass. Can he?
The wild, uncontrolled nature of the Web helped prevent President Clinton from gaining any spin control over the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which ballooned from an online rumor into an impeachment trial. He survived, but just barely. Gov. Bush may be trying to stop the same thing from happening to his campaign, but are his efforts getting caught in the Web? The Bush campaign has asked the Federal Election Commission to take action against a site largely devoted to the big coke question the candidate has been asked more than once. Many people want to know if the governor used cocaine as a young man, particularly since he passed on a chance to deny it during a 1998 Newsweek interview. "I will say [that] what I did as a youth is irrelevant to this campaign. What is relevant is, have you grown up, and I have," he said in the article. But the offending Web site, does think it's relevant. "George W. Bush Jr. will not deny that he used to use cocaine, but he fiercely advocates harsh and lengthy mandatory sentences for drug offenses ..." the site charges. Despite a recent front page story in the Wall Street Journal debunking the coke rumors, most people haven't been talking about it outside of Washington gossip circles. In fact, I have to admit I wasn't even aware of it until the Bush campaign jumped on the case of The campaign claims it doesn't want to shut the site down--it just wants to know how much was spent to create it. As most Webmasters know, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense because a Web page can cost virtually nothing. The New York organization that runs the site,, is claiming that the Bush camp wants to curtail free speech. It isn't the first time that the Bush campaign has worked to control what appears on the Internet. The governor's campaign has preregistered URLs with unflattering titles, so that critics couldn't get them. For instance, type "" into your search engine and it takes you straight to the Bush For President Web site. But while the Bush campaign did register such URLs as "," among others, it failed to nab the simple, straightforward, "," which is now in the hands of his critics at Gov. Bush could end speculation about whether or not he did coke by answering the question: Did he or didn't he? President Clinton, it should be remembered, ended speculation about his pot use by admitting he tried it once, but "didn't inhale." Given Gov. Bush's apparent unwillingness to address the cocaine question head-on, it would seem foolish for him to kick up a hornet's nest by making a move against: foolish it was. The free publicity the site has received from the campaign's action has brought it so much traffic that its owner is thinking about selling advertising. Gov. Bush's action was an attempt at intimidation, even if his campaign knew it didn't have the power to have the site removed. Luckily, it backfired. Gov. Bush should realize that the magic of the Internet is that it can't be controlled. Skeletons can and will be dragged out of the closet. No one can stop it. The governor, who enjoys wide backing among the technology elite of Silicon Valley, is in a pinch indeed if he did in fact snort cocaine, although I doubt it would be lethal for his campaign. Hopefully, for the good of the nation, the rumors aren't true. Gov. Bush has already been anointed by many as our next president. His backers have already registered domain names for,, and, with the assumption that one of those politicians will be a running mate. But it will be hard to reconcile a war on drugs with a presidential front-runner who won't deny using cocaine. 
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