Paul Farhi reports that the McCain campaign is offering incentives (points! prizes!) to people for spreading campaign rhetoric online (a.k.a., AstroTurfing, via comments sections on selected web sites).
“Reward points” or other incentives for political work aren’t a new concept. The Republican National Committee started a rewards program for volunteer fundraisers several years ago. More recently, Barack Obama’s campaign has given small donors and volunteers the chance to win a lunch or dinner with the candidate. (Obama’s campaign doesn’t have a comment program similar to McCain’s.)
More chillingly, dissidents alleged earlier this year that the Chinese government has paid Chinese citizens token sums for each favorable comment about government policies they post in chat rooms and on blogs.
*No, not all campaign rhetoric is lies. No, I am not saying AstroTurfers for McCain=liars. I was just too weak to resist the frequent flier miles wordplay. But I do wonder: will these McCain miles be as hard to redeem as the airline points? Will the lucky winner of the Free Ride on the Straight Talk Express encounter numerous blackout dates?
Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.