It started earlier this week, Fox News began to e-mails from people who said they got an e-mail last week from senior adviser David Axelrod, even though they had never requested any communication from the White House. In the email, Axelrod defended President Obama’s health care proposals and asked supporters to help rebut criticism circulating on the Internet. Axelrod wrote that opponents are relying on tactics including “viral e-mails that fly unchecked and under the radar, spreading all sorts of lies.” “So let’s start a chain of e-mail of our own,” he wrote, and asked supporter to send his message countering claims that Obama’s plans would lead to rationing, encourage euthanasia or deplete veterans’ health care, to every one they know.
Problem is by the middle of the week Fox had received thousands of emails complaining that they too were receiving the Axelrod spam.
In most cases spam was the least of their concerns, coming just a few days after the White House asked people to “turn in their neighbors” to [email protected], this was just another example of the President pushing all the right big brother buttons. People were asking Fox to investigate how they got on this list.
But many people who thought they were not on any distribution list received the message directly from the White House, leading to accusations that the Obama administration was effectively spamming them.
That led to this question from Fox’s Major Garrett, and this nasty response from White House Press Secretary Grumpy Gibbs (Click here if you can’t see video)
Today the White House conceded the people who received the email were indeed on a White House list, but they must have been put on the list by a third party:
The White House for the first time Sunday seemed to acknowledge that people across the country received unsolicited e-mails from the administration last week about health care reform, suggesting the problem is with third-party groups that placed the recipients’ names on the distribution list.
In a written statement released exclusively to FOX News, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said the White House hopes those who received the e-mails without signing up for them were not “inconvenienced” by the messages.
“The White House e-mail list is made up of e-mail addresses obtained solely through the White House Web site. The White House doesn’t purchase, upload or merge from any other list, again, all e-mails come from the White House Web site as we have no interest in e-mailing anyone who does not want to receive an e-mail,” the statement said. “If an individual received the e-mail because someone else or a group signed them up or forwarded the e-mail, we hope they were not too inconvenienced.”
The White House previously would not answer questions on how the e-mails landed unsolicited in so many inboxes. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Thursday said he couldn’t give an answer until he saw who received the e-mails because he doesn’t have “omnipotent clarity.”
Yet the White House ignored repeated offers from FOX News to share with the administration such e-mail addresses, to help determine how the recipients ended up on the White House distribution list.
“Further, we suggest that they unsubscribe from the list by clicking the link at the bottom of the e-mail or tell whomever forwarded it to them not to forward such information anymore. We are implementing measures to make subscribing to e-mails clearer, including preventing advocacy organizations from signing people up to our lists without their permission when they deliver petition signatures and other messages on individuals’ behalf.”
Something seems a bit fishy. The explanation has opened up more questions than it has answered. Rather than send an email to the White House snitch address, Fox reports that it has filed a freedom of information request, in order to get the full account of how the White House got a hold of the email addresses.