July 31 2008, 2:50 PM
During the last two weeks I've received more than 30 spam emails from "John McCain 2008." Two emails, sometimes three daily, labeled "Immediate Press Release." As is usually the case with press releases journalists receive, there's nothing immediate or for that matter all that interesting about them. They are banal statements issued by McCain andÂ "In Case You Missed It" notices about how and where Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has swallowed his foot. All of the emails have come with the rubric, "Media Advisory." I know, I know. What's the big deal?" Give me a second. Look, I'm fine with my 5280 email account getting spammed by McCain or any public- or private-sector huckster. It comes with the job. Truth be told, I've learned to laugh at the junk email solicitations for myriad products to sustain my erections and enlarge my penis. Often, in fact, of all of the pitches, they are the most cleverly written. Journalists' email addresses are easy enough to obtain, whether through a cursory search or a campaign staffer finding a bulk email list at any number of journalistic professional associations. Considering, however, that none of my 5280 colleagues have been receiving these McCain blasts, I suspect McCain's camp got my email handle by glancing at any number of websites for professional groups of which I'm a member. For the record, I've not been involved with or covered either the McCain or Obama campaigns. Whatever. How his campaign got my email isn't my beef either. By now you're expected to be rolling your eyes, thinking I should shut up already and simply have myself removed from the list. And that is precisely my point: Most spam solicitors offer the opportunity to simply click and send off a "please remove." And that's that. Not McCain. At the bottom of each of these emailed press releases is a line that goes, "Please visit this page if you want to remove yourself from the email list." Click on it and you're directed to his official campaign website, and in order to be removed you must select one of the following:
I am a McCain Supporter but don't wish to be contacted until closer to the election. I am a McCain Supporter but I am receiving too many emails. Please only send me newsletters and urgent alerts. I am a McCain Supporter but do not wish to receive email any longer. I am no longer a McCain Supporter and want to be taken off the email list.In other words, you cannot be removed, at least via the web, unless you agree to one of those statements--unless you agree to declare that you either are or were a McCain supporter. You cannot simply unsubscribe. I've tried. Many, many times. Why is it set up this way? If I'm part of some media spam list, perhaps it's to gauge media support for or against McCain. The replies become part of some strategy. Some "think-tank" discussion. Dunno. But, call me crazy, I care. And today, I phoned the Virginia-based press office number listed on all of the releases and got a Rachel Dean. "Do you want to be removed?" she said. Well, yes, but first I wanted an explanation for how they'd acquired my email address and someone to explain the unsubscribe declarations. How about the option to simply unsubscribe? Dean--the person who picks up the phone in the press office, reached at the number listed on the very spam I was calling to ask about--wouldn't talk to me at all on the record and gave me the number to McCain's Colorado regional muckety mucks, Tom Kise. I called and left a message. C'mon. McCain's spam strategy strikes me, dare I say it, as an un-American, arm-twisting use of email-- political cyber-porn meets extortion. Say McCain's name or expect more of the same. Sooooo, I've not checked a box, I'm still getting the spam. It's all sitting in my inbox "junk" bin with the Viagra-esque promotions. McCain may get a few of those himself.