Obama's New 'Truth Teams' and Related Web Sites Aren't News at AP, NYT

February 14th, 2012 1:08 AM

One web site devoted to "fighting the smears" (i.e., pretending that what is true really isn't) apparently isn't enough for Barack Obama's reelection campaign. There are now three, plus so-called "truth teams" of activists whose mission it will be to serve as rapid-response purveyors of what will likely heaping helpings of fabricated refutations.

This news is now officially 24 hours old; its first appearance, at least per Google News, came via the Washington Post and appeared at the web site of the Minneapolis Star Tribune shortly after midnight Monday morning. To no one's surprise, a search of the Associated Press's national site on "Obama truth" (not in quotes) returns nothing relevant, as does an advanced search at the New York Times on "Obama truth team" (also not in quotes). Here are key paragraphs from David Nakamura's story as it appeared at the Washington Post:

Obama’s ‘Truth Team’ aims to network its way to a reelection win

With his decision to embrace an independent super PAC last week, President Obama issued a plea for deep-pocketed allies to help his campaign fight back against Republican rivals in the increasingly expensive and sophisticated arena of television attack ads.

Now, the Obama campaign is putting out a call for its grass-roots network to join the battle for free.

On Monday, the president’s reelection team will unveil a trio of Web sites dedicated to providing supporters with information on the president’s record — and more than a little dirt on his Republican rivals. The campaign has named it Obama’s “Truth Team,” and the goal is to arm millions of surrogates with the facts, figures and talking points they need to engage in ground-level political combat — on their Twitter and Facebook feeds and in old-fashioned conversations with friends and neighbors.

... Of the three Truth Team portals, just one, KeepingHisWord.com, could be described as positive in tone, listing Obama’s accomplishments. A sample page provided by the campaign has the headline “Fighting for the U.S. Auto Industry” and explains that Obama extended “emergency loans” to Chrysler and GM in 2009. Now, the Detroit auto companies “are creating jobs.”

The other two sites are far more negative. AttackWatch.com aims to rebut political attacks against Obama. A sample page deconstructs Romney’s contention that January’s upbeat jobs report was a byproduct of private-sector innovation, not Obama’s policies.

... The third Web site, KeepingGOPHonest.com, allows Obama supporters to play offense, providing damaging material about his rivals. A sample page ridicules Romney’s comment during a Republican primary debate in South Carolinathat he has lived on the “real streets of America” and lists his connections to Washington lobbyists.

... The Obama campaign has arranged for surrogates — including members of Congress and state politicians — to lead the Truth Teams in battleground states.

... the approach can backfire, as the Obama team learned last fall when it debuted AttackWatch.com and the site was ridiculed by conservatives for the over-the-top, alarmist design — red lettering on a black background. The Obama campaign said 1 million supporters signed up on the site, but it has since been redesigned for the re-launch Monday.

A Google News search at about 12:30 a.m. ET on "Obama truth teams" (not in quotes, with duplicates) returned 91 relevant items. Many of them appear to be ABC News TV affiliates who picked up portions of the Devin Dwyer's post at the network's "Political Punch" blog on Monday morning. This is extremely light volume for a story of this magnitude, and is surely a small fraction of what we would be seeing if a Republican or conservative attempted such an Orwellian maneuver.

It will be interesting to see how much coverage this gets on the Big Three news networks' TV shows. My prediction: very little.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.