Jun 17, 2007

Fred Thompson's Web Presence

Somebody has been working overtime setting up Fred Thompson's on-line presence. But there appears to be a stark difference in what is going on with Thompson's presence and Ron Paul's.

It's a facade. Literally.

Somebody planted in the media (specifically Jay Lenno) that Fred's "army" call themselves "fredheads" but looking at the facade they've erected, it is more likely that one of Thompson's campaign staffers came up with the term and hired a few web consultants to create a "presence" and craft Leno some scripted questions to promote the idea of a grass roots campaign.

For instance, fredheads dot com (registered on May 29 of 2007 by somebody in Fred's home state of TN) went live on June 7. Apparently this serves up the "fredheads" forum. Since then, there have been a whopping 109 posts by by 63 users (about 1 post every 2 hours). Based on the content (Hollywood Fred: What's your favorite Fred Thompson role!) it could well be that the 63 users are his staffers hoping to generate enough "buzz" to attract real users...

This was my favorite post by 'admin':

Subject: I can say WOW

We are getting some amazing email from both members and non-members of this board. There is a genuine feeling of excitment about this campaign and we are the initial groundswell of support. [sic]

I can say "wow" too, but it wouldn't be about Fred's internet 'groundswell'.

Interesting to me is the timing. Fred Hasn't announced yet but there is this concerted effort behind the scenes to organize an internet presence disguised as a grassroots effort by "fredheads." Hmmm. Contrast that with Ron Paul's presence which has taken place at already popular sites such as MySpace, technorati, Youtube, Meetup etc. These sites are the natural social networking arenas on the web.

Sure there are some unofficial Ron Paul forums and sites out there but the bulk of the activity is taking place in the blogosphere and on the social networks. Where are the Thompson supporters on Youtube?

Thompson's bizarre video response to Michael Moore is on youtube with about 59,000 views but Thompson's campaign hasn't put up a presence in the YouDecide2008 channel. And that response! Not only does it contain a veiled threat, it's a professional production. A pure Hollywood script with the scene opening on Thompson turning to the camera while reading what *must* be an important briefing to tell Michael Moore he has no time on his schedule to debate him. However, Michael, when you go visit your buddy Castro, keep in mind the last documentary film maker that went down there spent years getting electro shock treatment in one of Castro's mental institutions.

Fade to black while Thompson picks up his important briefing and turns back away from the camera.

I'm pretty sure that Fred made the video especially for the only fans he has on the internet at Free Republic.com.

There are other videos that have been put up over the past year but most have less than 5000 views.

Lawyers for Thompson (registered privately with go daddy on May 31 ) is a good example of the facade. With links running down the sidebar representing every state, all but a few of the "affiliates" use the same blog layout and font and like the main site virtually no comments. Perhaps lawyers don't visit the web or don't do a lot of grassroots political activity. Or maybe aren't that interested in Fred's campaign....

The main "fredheads site" is fredheads usa dot org. It is exactly the same layout and design as the lawyers for Thompson site and is also registered privately with go daddy.

It is also conspicuously void of any significant activity other than by whomever is populating it with blog entries. There is a lot of activity (creating facades) in the past few weeks for a guy who hasn't decided to run yet. But not much in the way of actual traffic. It's early yet but doesn't look too promising.

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