Fake News Website Starts “Covering” John Tierney Race

Two years ago, national Republicans found a way to lose a seemingly slam-dunk race  for Richard Tisei, challenging Democratic Congressman John Tierney up on the North Shore. And here they go again.

As part of a new strategy in close races across the country, the National Republican Congressional Campaign (NRCC) has set up a phony community news site called “Middleton Update,” that is actually a Republican attack site.

The site is set up to look for all the world like a local news outlet, with the legally required disclaimer tucked away in small print at the very bottom of the page. So far there is one “news” item, written by “Geoff,” headlined “Has Tierney Gone Washington?” (The accompanying photo is helpfully captioned: “Tierney (above, left) has been criticized for “going Washington.”)

The site includes a “Most Popular” box, which turns out to link out to real news articles critical of Tierney. Below that is a “Most Viewed” box containing one headline with no actual link: “House ethics panel extends investigation for Tierney.” Unsurprisingly, there is nothing on the site indicating that the panel subsequently voted unanimously to drop the investigation.

Judging by the other NRCC fake news sites for other races, this one should soon carry mean videos along with insulting pseudo-articles.

The tactic is apparently legally permissible, although pretty ethically bankrupt. The gain might outweigh the harm in other parts of the country, but here in Massachusetts disdain runs high for the nasty, vacuous, hate-filled national GOP. Almost anything labeled with the words “National Republican” appearing in this race is bound to backfire on Tisei, and something as sleazy as this especially. If I were Tisei I’d be begging the NRCC to take it down.