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Everybody's got issues in Politics
But his commercial success is only part of the story, according
to Barbara Warnick,
a communications professor at the University of Washington who has
been studying parody websites in this year's presidential campaign.
She believes parody sites -- of which there are many -- could
actually be influencing voters.
"While many readers could freely sample site content and be
entertained, they were (also) likely to be persuaded," Warnick says
in an as-yet-unpublished study.
Warnick found that as parody sites become more sophisticated,
they are also becoming more influential, especially because almost a
quarter of Internet users say they receive at least some of their
information about the candidates online.
It's still unclear whether the sophistication of the sites will
result in fooling a segment of the voting population.
"The people who are most likely to be affected by parody sites
are the ones whose opinions about the candidates are the least
well-formed," said Jan P. Vermeer, a political science professor at
Nebraska Wesleyan University.
Exley's site, gwbush.com, is quite close in tone to the official
sounding so realistic that it offers a false sense of credibility.
Then again, the Bush campaign didn't do itself any favors by
drawing attention to the site.
The campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Election
Commission, which decided there were too many other, serious matters
to bother with it.
But the notoriety attending the Bush campaign's humorless
reaction propelled Exley's site, and others like it, to national
A number of the websites Warnick studied are not only wickedly
funny, but technically advanced as well, keeping pace with the
official sites they're satirizing.
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