Salon has a piece up today that should totally change the way people view letters to the editor in their local paper.

In short: the author reveals how she was recruited by the McCain campaign to be one of six ghostwriters. The writers were assigned the task of producing fake letters to the editor intended to be signed and submitted by other people.

According to Phil Tuchman (campaign staffer), the letters “will be sent to our campaign offices in battle states. Ohio. Pennsylvania. Virginia. New Hampshire. There we’ll place them in local newspapers.”

The process goes something like this:

1. The McCain campaign recruits ghostwriters- often not American (e.g. dutch, russian, polish)

2. The ghostwriters compose letters praising McCain and Palin. They are encouraged to write in another voice (e.g. a mom, a millionaire, a begger) – in other words, to lie.

3. the letters are then sent to state campaign offices

4. local supporters review the letters and, when they find one they like, they sign it

5. dozens of these letter are then sent to local newspapers – increasing the chances of having one of them accepted

Here are some examples…

  • Harry Knopp

    I don’t see how that’s much different from the Obama campaign literally putting words in people’s mouths with a “script” (

    I’m sure you’re already aware that campaigns on both sides provide letters to the editor for supporters to submit under their own names. Not just political campaigns, either–ballot initiative campaigns do the same thing.

    People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones–they should discuss issues intelligently without assuming their audience is too dumb to see through windows.

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