Both the campaign of Barack Obama (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ) use the internet to provide information about the candidate and to solicit campaign contributions. But the Obama internet operation has gone much further. With an eye to the damage done to his Democratic nominee predecessor John Kerry (D-MA), Obama’s team is using its database of supporters to contact radio and television stations that either run ads that the campaign considers untruthful, or that host individuals who the campaign believes are stretching or ignoring the truth. The Obama posse is also
writing into local newspapers. And it is contacting advertisers on stations the campaign feels are unfair.
One organization, the American Issues Project, was a target of the Obama rapid response effort. According to the Chicago Tribune, its president Ed Martin said, "If Barack Obama demonstrates this little regard for free speech from his opponents during the campaign, what could the American people expect from him as a president?"
A professor specializing in political communication, U. Iowa’s Bruce Gronbeck, countered that the Obama supporters were merely exercising their own freedom of speech.” The media are players in the process," he said. "If they are a player, the parties are certainly going to try to hold them accountable."
RBR/TVBR observation: Conventional wisdom holds that the Republicans have held a major media advantage in the realm of talk radio since 1994. But now, in 2008, the Democrats have benefitted from a largely unanswered ability to make effective use of the internet. There is no reciprocal McCain rapid response capability out there. The important nonpolitical lesson that broadcasters can take away from all this is that broadcast outlets are still hugely important – both campaigns clearly subscribe to that fact — but to maximize the value of the broadcast outlets in this day and age, the internet must be made an integral part of the total operation.