Is this the sort of change we can believe in?

Much of Barack Obama’s political success can be traced to a database listing contact information for millions of people, a tool that has proved invaluable in raising record sums of money and organizing a national volunteer network.

Now Obama’s presidential campaign is increasingly using the list to beat back media messages it does not like, calling on supporters to flood radio and television stations when those opposed to him run anti-Obama ads or appear on talk shows.

Sen. John McCain’s campaign uses the Internet for fundraising and organization but does not have anything like Obama’s alert system to bombard a specific media outlet in real time.

Obama’s campaign says supporters have placed thousands of phone calls to TV and radio stations and sent even more letters to newspapers.

A page on the campaign’s Web site, headlined “Hit ’em where it hurts,” told supporters how to complain to advertisers at stations that ran a recent anti-Obama ad.

“We’ll provide you with talking points on this maliciously false hit ad to help guide you through the process,” the page said, citing a spot run by a conservative group called the American Issues Project.

The campaign says supporters sent roughly 100,000 e-mails in August to stations that aired the ad, which criticized Obama for his ties to former 1960s radical William Ayers.

WGN also was flooded with calls and e-mails shortly before and during an Aug. 27 interview with Stanley Kurtz, a conservative writer who has examined Obama’s ties to Ayers.

“WGN radio is giving right-wing hatchet man Stanley Kurtz a forum to air his baseless, fear-mongering terrorist smears,” read the first message confronting the station, an e-mail that also provided detailed background information on Kurtz, Obama and Ayers.

Bruce Gronbeck, a University of Iowa professor who studies political communications, said protests against television and radio stations are fair game in a presidential campaign.

“The media are players in the process,” he said. “If they are a player, the parties are certainly going to try to hold them accountable.”

Call me crazy, but I find it scary that Obama’s supporters want to live in a world in which someone like Stanley Kurtz does not appear on the radio.

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