Friday, August 22, 2008

Cruel Text Hoaxes Bamboozle Bambi Backers

I knew the absurd idea of announcing a vice presidential selection by text message would backfire.

For one, people are so bored and tuned out by the entire Obama selection dance. Dragging this out all week hasn't built suspense, it's killed it entirely.

Now apparently people have figured out a way to send hoax texts.

Serves them right.
It’s a cruel twist in a prolonged game of guessing that has put political junkies and Democratic supporters on edge since the campaign announced last week that it would disclose Obama’s choice through text messaging, which is expected to happen by Saturday.

In the absence of real information, pranksters have filled the gap with guidance from the website Wonkette – and maybe Howard Stern, too.

“There is incredible enthusiasm for Barack Obama’s vice presidential announcement and unfortunately some people have used that enthusiasm and sent out hoaxes," said Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who received one herself. “We can assure our supporters these texts did not come from the campaign and their data is secure. Everyone can also rest easy that despite their popularity, Mickey Mouse and Michael Phelps are not on the short list at this time.”

A Manhattan woman got excited when she received a message announcing Hillary Rodham Clinton, but soon realized it was a joke she saw nothing more about the choice on the Internet.

There also were reports of John Kerry, Walter Mondale and even Eliot Spitzer.

On Wednesday morning, Richmond lawyer Anne Leigh Kerr passed along bad information to political types after receiving a text message from an unknown number that, in formal language, announced that Obama selected Gov. Tim Kaine.

“Now, even if Tim Kaine himself tells me he's VP, I think I'll keep my mouth shut,” Kerr told Politico.

The website Wonkette might have something to do with the proliferation of hoax messages. At 2:07 p.m. Wednesday, managing editor Ken Layne posted a step-by-step manual from a reader under the headline: “Freak Out Your Friends With Fake Obama VP TXT.”

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