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July 26, 2000

Political Reporters Get 'Spammed' By Flaks


The Democratic National Convention Committee admitted this week that it accidentally exposed the e-mail addresses of more than 800 political journalists while issuing a press release over the weekend.

Yet, even as reporters and editors around the nation started receiving unsolicited promotional e-mail from flaks and political activists who obtained the list, a spokesman for the convention committee insisted the list was made up exclusively of e-mail addresses belonging to journalists.

'So reporters got the e-mail addresses of other reporters,' said Peter Ragone, spokesman for the committee organizing next month's Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles where the party is expected to nominate Vice President Al Gore for president. 'That's all.'

Ragone's response on Tuesday was less contrite than the e-mail sent out by fellow spokesperson Jennifer Mielenz on Monday in which she apologized for the error and urged restraint from 'any unwanted e-mails that you received due to this problem.'

Mielenz wrote that the mistake was caused by a glitch in their e- mail list, and Ragone said Tuesday that the computer itself dumped the address list into the 'To:' field instead of the 'bcc:' field. Mass e-mails can be sent as blind carbon copies to conceal the names of other recipients.

The first to use the list was Minnesota's Democratic Farm Labor Party spokeswoman Karen Louise Boothe, who sent a note suggesting stories on Minnesota's delegates to the convention. Boothe refused to comment.

Other 'spam' received by list members included a party invitation for Monday night in Alexandria, Va., from Nick Thimmesch of the Washington D.C.-based PR firm USA Media Communications, who said of the list, 'It was obviously a mistake, but all's fair in e-mail wars.'

Stor irritation.

'It was a minor mix-up that could happen to anyone,' said Politics Editor Brian Hartman of ABCNews.Com. 'We already put our e-mail addresses online for the world to see anyway.'


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