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Arment Dietrich

Street Money

By: Arment Dietrich | May 13, 2008 | 
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By Morgan Smith

When it comes to politics, there are times in the United States election cycle when interest spikes and it seems everyone has a genuine interest in helping shape the direction our country should travel in the coming years. This interest in politics is especially high this year, and is seen in record Primary Election turnouts across our country.

However, with increased interest comes increased media coverage, and if it happens to be a slow week, or filler is needed, it seems just about any story can make it into the news cycle.

For example, a story recently ran in the New York Times which sensationalizing a common campaign activity, and disturbingly attempting to portray Sen. Hillary Clinton in a light harmful to voters.

The story is about the Clinton campaign paying workers to help the organization’s get out the vote efforts. The authors, Mike McIntire and Michael Luo laughably describe the payments writing, “The payments, known in the political vernacular as “street money,” are a legal but controversial tool that Mrs. Clinton employed at a time when she was desperately seeking a victory after losing 10 consecutive contests to Mr. Obama.”

Really guys?  “Street money?” Are these really a “legal but controversial tool” that only Mrs. Clinton uses? Is this even news? I’m not sure, but I think there are people working on campaigns who get paid. Even on Mr. Obama’s campaign.

In fact, in the same article they write, “the Obama campaign paid about 150 people in Texas, most of them college students, for campaign work.”

I guess because “the payments were widely dispersed, with only a handful in South Texas and fewer than 20 in Houston,” and “a spokesman for the Obama campaign drew a distinction between the money it paid to college students, who he said were enthusiastic supporters to begin with, and the payments by the Clinton campaign, which he described as an effort to buy influence among important constituencies” they are not the same. Even though to me, they sound exactly the same.

If the authors had done any research, and I do emphasize “any,” they would have found the practice of paying GOTV workers is widespread and hardly “controversial.” I worked on campaigns from U.S. Senate to Alderman, and on every one with the resources to do so, workers were paid to “round up votes for candidates on Election Day,” as well as “knock on doors, deliver fliers and get voters to the polls.”

Spinning by omission is still spinning, and leaving readers without all the facts to make an informed decision does nothing but serve as a detriment to the election process.

 

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