The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Sunday, September 21, 2008

MUST READ: Orchestrating the Palin Smear: Did "Barack Obama Approve this Message"

Dr Rusty and Friends have hit the mother lode: evidence that Barack Obama broke Federal Election laws by sanctioning the Sarah Palin smear campaign.

This is only a small portion: you will DEFINITELY want to read the whole thing:

Extensive research was conducted by the Jawa Report to determine the source of smears directed toward Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Those smears included false allegations that she belonged to a secessionist political party and that she has radical anti-American views.

Our research suggests that a subdivision of one of the largest public relations firms in the world most likely started and promulgated rumors about Sarah Palin that were known to be false. These rumors were spread in a surreptitious manner to avoid exposure.

It is also likely that the PR firm was paid by outside sources to run the smear campaign. While not conclusive, evidence suggests a link to the Barack Obama campaign. Namely:

  • Evidence suggests that a YouTube video with false claims about Palin was uploaded and promoted by members of a professional PR firm.
  • The family that runs the PR firm has extensive ties to the Democratic Party, the netroots, and are staunch Obama supporters.
  • Evidence suggests that the firm engaged in a concerted effort to distribute the video in such a way that it would appear to have gone viral on its own. Yet this effort took place on company time.
  • Evidence suggests that these distribution efforts included actions by at least one employee of the firm who is unconnected with the family running the company.
  • The voice-over artist used in this supposedly amateur video is a professional.
  • This same voice-over artist has worked extensively with David Axelrod's firm, which has a history of engaging in phony grassroots efforts, otherwise known as "astroturfing."
  • David Axelrod is Barack Obama's chief media strategist.
  • The same voice-over artist has worked directly for the Barack Obama campaign.

This suggests that false rumors and outright lies about Sarah Palin and John McCain being spread on the internet are being orchestrated by political partisans and are not an organic grassroots phenomenon led by the left wing fringe. Our findings follow.


Who is behind this video against Sarah Palin? It alleges:

Sarah Palin was a member of an Anti-American separatist organization.
It claims that Sarah Palin was a member of the Alaskan Independence Party and cites The New York Times for that source. Then it quotes the founder of that Party with some pretty outrageous statements.

But here's what says about that:

[Sarah Palin] was never a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, a group that wants Alaskans to vote on whether they wish to secede from the United States. She’s been registered as a Republican since May 1982.
And The New York Times was forced to retract their earlier claim that Palin was a member of the party, blaming the error on the party's chair. That retraction was published Sept. 3rd, 8 days before the video was first made publicly available.

Sarah Palin wasn't even physically at the party's convention. The clip you see is part of Palin's videotaped welcome for the convention's opening in which she gives some general remarks about the need for party competition and then tries to draw some common ground on the need to reel in government spending. Hardly evidence of extremism or anti-American sentiment.

In our opinion the Palin smear video appears professionally produced. Especially revealing is the voice over, which has a ring of familiarity to it and which also sounds professional.

If we are correct, that means that someone paid for the ad and for the talent behind it. Yet no one identifies themselves as being behind the video.

Using techniques that we've used in the past to find the identity of online terrorist supporters, the Jawa team went to work trying to figure out who was behind what appeared, in our opinion, to be a professionally orchestrated smear campaign aimed at Sarah Palin with the ultimate goal of electing Barack Obama.


Federal election law requires that a disclaimer from those paying for campaign ads, "must appear on any "electioneering communication" and on any public communication by any person that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or solicits funds in connection with a federal election." Even when the ad is not paid for nor coordinated with the candidates election committee, "the disclaimer notice must identify who paid for the message, state that it was not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee and list the permanent street address, telephone number or World Wide Web address of the person who paid for the communication."

No such disclaimer appears on the ad in question. However, "General public political advertising does not include Internet ads, except for communications placed for a fee on another person’s web site." It is not clear to us whether a video is considered an "internet ad" or if the wording only meant to include banner ads or other more common forms of internet advertising.

All of the web only video ads that we could find produced by the Obama campaign carried the disclosure or some other clearly identifiable notice that they were responsible for its content.

It would appear that the ad, while professionally produced, was put on YouTube and then spread in such a way as to make it seem like amateurs had made it and spread it. We can't help but wonder if the missing disclaimer on the video was an intentional exploitation of a loophole meant to distance the people behind the ad from its outright lies?

We also can't help but wonder if maybe those who produced the ad believed that the lack of disclaimer constituted an FEC violation? Which would be an alternative explanation for why they did not wish to be connected to it.

Beyond the disclaimer, though, our reading of FEC regulations suggests that political campaign and 527 groups, such as, are required to report money spent on advertising opposing a candidate for public office. We can find no exception for advertising intended for web only campaigns.

We assume that if some group paid for the production of the video, that it would be reported to the FEC. Not doing so, we believe, would constitute a breach of federal campaign law.


The YouTube poster who uploaded the video did so under the account name "eswinner". He names his channel "AGroupofConcernedAmericans". The goal of his channel, says "eswinner", is:

Offering a fair and unbiased view towards life and politics...

I try to give an unbiased account of all things American.

The video was uploaded four times under the "eswinner" account, using different titles for each video. The video was also uploaded to Google Video on the same day and with the same title.

A Google search of other people using the nickname or account name “eswinner” reveals that someone very interested in yachts also goes by that name. There is, for example, a Picasa page under the account name “eswinner”. I won't link to that page because it also has pictures of his family, but I will include a screenshot here.


That Picasa page of "eswinner" is used by an "Ethan" advertising on Craig's List that he will rent out his yacht to interested parties. But "Ethan" also leaves his e-mail account:

And just what is An alternate dns designation for Winner & Associates. A firm that employs one Ethan S. Winner.

Hundreds of pictures on the Picassa page belonging to "eswinner" show that the page belongs to the same Ethan S. Winner that is employed by the public relations firm of Winner & Associates. Other instances of an "eswinner" or "ewinner" posting on the internet are found sprinkled here and there. All of those postings seem to fit the profile of Ethan S. Winner and suggest that eswinner and Ethan Winner are one and the same.

The company he works for, Winner & Associates, is one of the largest PR firms in the country and part of an even larger international conglomerate Publicis Groupe, which is, "one the world's top 10 advertising and communications firms."

A firm that specializes in "helping companies survive and succeed" a "controversial issue such as a lawsuit, a government investigation, a political protest, a labor dispute, or a defective product or recall."

A firm that also happens to produce TV ads. And owns a number of affiliated firms which do similar work.

These people are professional guns for hire. Looking at their portfolio makes that clear. And they only work for big clients. The kind of clients that pay big bucks. The kind of people hired by Exxon to convince people that the effects of the Valdez spill were over. The kind of people hired to help push through oil fields in Chad and Cameroon or help companies respond to boycott threats over the Beijing Olympics.

The kind of people who would have an in-house attorney to handle PR for Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. And get them a movie deal.

Also the kind of people hired by the European Union to help sell the new EU treaty. Who was the lead in that effort? Ethan S. Winner.


In other words, probably not the kind of people who make anti-Palin advertisements with professional voiceovers in their spare time. But also not the kind of people to be averse to running a seemingly grassroots Palin smear campaign .

What I am told by a friend in the business is called "cyber ambuscade" when done by corporations. Apparently it is common practice for corporations to try to plant untraceable rumors about their competitors. In other words some corporations pay professionals to slime the competitors.

While it is clear that W&A are very big guns for hire, those that run it have been strong financial supporters of Democrat candidates and have links to the leftist netroots that first championed Barack Obama.

DiscerningTexan, 9/21/2008 11:56:00 PM |