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A View from Erika Jonietz

Is Bush Wired?

Salon.com has published a story questioning whether the Bush campaign is using technology to transmit speeches and even debate answers to the president (subscription or ad-driven, free day pass required). Rumors regarding a bulge spotted under Bush’s jacket during the…

  • October 8, 2004

Salon.com has published a story questioning whether the Bush campaign is using technology to transmit speeches and even debate answers to the president (subscription or ad-driven, free day pass required). Rumors regarding a bulge spotted under Bush’s jacket during the Miami debate are popping up all over the Web. The image, captured by Fox News cameras, shows a solid, rectangular object between Bush’s shoulders as he leans over the lectern.

The idea that Bush may be using a sophisticated receiver system started with a D-day event in France, when CNN appeared to pick up another voice seemingly reading Bush his lines. Salon writer Dave Lindorff notes that television reporters frequently use the technique to speak more smoothly during remote stand-ups, prerecording their lines, feeding them through an earpiece, and then repeating them during the live telecast.

The rumor has spawned a website, isbushwired.com, and is fueling blogs and online investigations at sites such as MediaChannel.org.

It also opens the question of what role technology does–and should–play in modern politics. The Internet fuels citizen participation via blogs and sites such as meetup.com–generally agreed to be a good thing. Teleprompters help politicians seem more personable to audiences without the pesky need to memorize a speech. Using an earpiece to do the same hardly seems controversial, but if the same technology is employed to feed facts and answers to one debater but not another, questions about its use become much more serious.

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