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Friday, September 19, 2008
Kessler Hides Background of Notorious Push-Poller
Topic: Newsmax

A Sept. 17 Newsmax column by Ronald Kessler begins: "Most polls may be overstating Barack Obama’s support by 5 to 10 percentage points because those surveyed may not be telling the truth about voting for him, ad executive Gabe Joseph III tells Newsmax." Kessler describes Joseph only as "president of ccAdvertising, which conducts polls for a range of candidates and members of Congress."

Turns out Joseph's background is much more interesting -- and notorious -- than that. As TPM Muckraker detailed, Joseph "may be the king of the push poll, in which real-sounding questions with ludicrous premises are asked to plant negative ideas in voters' minds." His company, ccAdvertising, was founded by former Reagan administration official Donald Hodel and has solid Republican ties. TPM continues:

As might be expected of an outfit that profits off of convincing people not to vote, ccAdvertising plays rough. Mother Jones reveals that Joseph once boasted of his firm's ability to "deliver a voter suppression message" to unfriendly voters. And as much as Joseph enjoys talking about the reach of his company's technology, he's not above threatening reporters: "If someone writes something that I don't like, I can make their life—I can make them understand a few things if I choose."

How would you know if you received one of the millions of calls ccAdvertising has made on behalf of clients, all Republican, in the past few months? A robo voice might have asked you, "Do you believe that foreign terrorists should have the same legal rights as American citizens?" or told you that your local Democrat "voted to allow the sale of a broad range of violent and sexually explicit materials to minors."


As hard as ccAdvertising works to smother its targeted voters with calls, it also works to cloak its identity. So if you get a call from ccAdvertising, you won't know it's them. Although the calls tend to disclose through which organization the call was ordered, the name on a recipient's caller ID is generic-sounding, like "Election Research" or, as in the case of the recent calls to Maryland and Tennessee, "P RSRCH 2006." The company maintains a stable of business aliases like those to stay anonymous. It even went so far as to make calls in a couple states under another business' name.

Joseph is unapologetic about his product. "There's no more effective free speech tool than what we do," Joseph told Mother Jones. "That's why people complain. Because we're effective. If it wasn't effective, nobody would say anything."

Yet Kessler wants you to think Joseph is a legitimate pollster. Then again, Kessler sold out his principles in the name of Republican loyalty, so he's not exactly a legitimate reporter.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:07 AM EDT

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