[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE National Republican Congressional Committee has launched fake news sites in swing districts to post attack pieces on Democratic candidates, including former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who is running against incumbent Mike Coffman in Colorado’s Sixth District.
The “Aurora Update” appears as the top result in Google searches of Romanoff’s name, albeit after the small yellow “ad” square Google places before paid content:
The headline story that appears at the site today is titled “Romanoff record out of step with Colorado voters.” It’s written in the style of fact-checking news pieces, but it’s an obvious laundry list of Republican talking points.
“Professional Candidate Andrew Romanoff is running for yet another political office,” the piece begins. “After losing handily in the primary for U.S. Senate, Andrew’s now running for Congress. Let’s break down Romanoff’s record and his many positions in detail so you can decide whether he deserves your vote.”
The author — listed only as “Geoff” — argues Romanoff “has been accused of hypocrisy” on campaign finance, that he “voted to increase taxes by over $3.7 billion,” that he supports Obamacare, even though the law “threatens women’s access to healthcare and cuts Medicare for current seniors” and that he “supports a national energy tax that would likely cause us to lose some of those good-paying jobs.”
There are no links, resource cites or quotes provided to readers to support any of the charges.
“Andrew Romanoff’s extreme record will likely be too much for Coloradans to stomach come November,” the fake article concludes.
Neither the Romanoff nor Coffman campaign immediately responded to requests for comment.
Regular readers of news will not be fooled by the sites. The target is novice readers researching the candidates as Election Day in November approaches.
As The National Journal reports, the fake news sites come in the wake of a similar campaign launched last year by the same House Republican organization. In that case, the NRCC set up campaign websites designed to appear as if they supported Democratic candidates and asked for donations that in fact went to Republicans. The group pulled down the sites after headlines spurred public outcry and threatened legal action.
The fake news sites target Romanoff and 20 some other Democrats running for House seats, according to the Journal. The list includes Amanda Renteria, Scott Peters, and Ami Bera in California; Ann Callis, Bill Enyart, and Brad Schneider in Illinois; Stacy Appel in Iowa; Sean Eldridge in New York; and Nick Casey in West Virginia.
The sites include a legally required disclaimer in small type at the bottom: “Paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. www.nrcc.org”
“We believe this is the most effective way to present information to leave a lasting impact on voters,” Andrea Bozek, NRCC communications director, told the National Journal.
Ryan Rudominer, a Democratic strategist who has worked for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told the Journal he looks upon the sites as an admission, even in official Republican circles, that the GOP’s policy proposals are unpopular and its connection with the public increasingly tenuous.
“These sites say more about the NRCC’s own toxicity and desperation than anything else.”
[ Top image: August 12 screen shot of the “Aurora Update” homepage. ]