So the "I hate spam" is a smoke screen?
Yes... actually we issued a press release (see below) but we're still debating whether we should release it or not. The problem -- the media being what it is -- is that we may give them the opportunity to give the false accusation more traction by responding. Give them the opportunity and the media will burn you.
SPAM or MEDIA SPIN?
By Christopher Carmouche
Executive Director Laptoplobbyist.com
Hi, my name is Rachel and my telephone number is ______________. I wanted to tell you that you're evil horrible people. You're awful people. You represent horrible ideas. God hates you and he wants to kill your children. You should all burn in hell. Bye."
What would you do if you were a local media personality and you left the preceding message on the voicemail of a public policy organization?
What would you do if the public policy organization published the voicemail message and as a result of the controversy, you tendered your resignation?
If youre Rachel Buchman, formerly a reporter for WHYY the Philadelphia NPR affiliate, the answer is simple. You write a hit piece and accuse the organization of spamming you in an attempt to skew the issue and rationalize your actions.
In the hit piece, published last week in the Philadelphia Weekly Online, and reported in the Wall Street Journal Online, Ms. Buchman attributes her motives for making the call to what she calls spam rage.
Unfortunately, Ms. Buchman fails to mention that during a phone conversation I had with her the Saturday after Thanksgiving, she acknowledged that she had, in fact, subscribed to receive the mailers in question.
So, from whence did the accusation come?
During that Saturday phone conversation, Ms. Buchman told me she was having difficulties unsubscribing. Was that actually the case? I dont know. Only Mr. Buchman knows the answer.
For our part, we take the scrubbing of our lists very seriously, but mass mailing is a very frustrating task on occasion.
We do receive the periodic voicemail message from people who only supply their first name or the periodic email from a person who sends the unsubscribe request from an alternate email address. In both cases, we have no way of knowing the address at which the person is subscribed, but these rare instances are usually resolved with a phone call or follow up email to he person in question.
Of course, this skewing, on Ms. Buchmans part, should not come as a surprise. After all, when the Rathergate scandal broke, Dan Rathers initial reaction was to stand by the story and cast aspersions back at President Bush even though it was obvious that the documents on which the story was based were forged.
The accusation of spam is not the only fact that Ms. Buchman skewed. There are others.
Buchman claims that the voicemail message was a personal issue and that she simply made a mistake in leaving her work number. What Buchman fails to mention is that she made the call from work during office hours.
Perhaps, the public apology issued by WHYY states it best, This was an unfortunate incident. It serves to reinforce the understanding that every staff member represents WHYY in every aspect of his or her life both personal and professional.
Buchman claims that I personally campaigned to get her fired. Actually we never called for her termination or resignation. Our goal was, and still is, to illustrate instances of media bias, make those instances of media bias known to the public and encourage the public to sound-off on these issues.
Buchman claims, The company makes money charging $20 a pop to "Insta-Fax" senators, congressfolk (sic) and other people in power form letters on selected issues.
What Buchman does not mention is that Laptoplobbyist.com is incorporated as a 501c4 non profit, so, in essence, we do not make money. While the statement on Buchmans part is carefully worded, the implication is clear. Its tantamount to accusing a church of making money simply because they pass the collection plate every Sunday.
During the conversation we had the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I specifically asked Ms. Buchman if, considering the hateful tone of the message, she could reasonably consider herself an unbiased reporter.
Based on Buchmans response in writing the hit piece in question, the answer is definitely, No.