Obama rebuts rumors on new Web site
By Brian Knowlton / Thursday, June 12, 2008
WASHINGTON: After trying for months to bat down a swirl of wild rumors in more conventional ways, the presidential campaign of Barack Obama started a Web site Thursday intended to quash such reports - though by doing so it might have given the rumors even broader exposure.
Obama, the presumptive Democratic candidate, reportedly took the politically risky step after growing increasingly angry about reports that his wife, Michelle, had used the racial epithet "whitey" in what was described as a "rant" in Trinity United Church of Christ, the Obamas' former place of worship in Chicago.
"The Obama campaign isn't going to let dishonest smears spread across the Internet unanswered," Tommy Vietor, a campaign spokesman, said in a statement. "Whenever challenged with these lies, we will aggressively push back with the truth."
The unusual move underscores the incendiary way in which rumors borne by the Internet, cable television or broadcast talk shows can throw even a well-run campaign off balance. The matter is particularly sensitive for Obama as he seeks to become the first nonwhite U.S. president: Most of the attacks seem designed to portray him as less than a full American, of questionable national origin, of divided loyalties and radical beliefs.