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Inside Politics

Source of Internet attack on Clinton is a mystery

Story Highlights

• Excerpts of Sen. Clinton's speeches mesmerize an audience in an Internet ad
• Source of the elaborately produced ad is unknown
• Clip is remake of Apple ad from 1984, which was a take on Orwell's "1984"
• Obama insists his camp knew nothing about the ad
From Mary Snow
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- An Internet ad slamming Sen. Hillary Clinton and promoting Sen. Barack Obama has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube, but no one knows just who is behind the elaborately produced spot.

The "Vote Different" clip is a remake of an Apple computer ad from 1984, which in turn was a take on George Orwell's "1984."

In the latest version, Clinton is cast as Big Brother, and excerpts of her speeches mesmerize a uniform, catatonic audience. As the audience files into a theater, a young woman carrying a sledgehammer runs up the aisle and throws it at the video screen, shattering it. (Watch how the video may mark a historic shift in political ads Video)

The ad ends with a message reading, "On January 14th, the Democratic primary will begin. And you'll see why 2008 won't be like '1984.' "

The screen then dissolves to a colorful "O" that resembles an Apple logo, with the Internet address "" beneath.

Obama insists his camp knew nothing about the ad.

"One of the things about the Internet is that people generate all kinds of stuff. In some ways, it's the democratization of the campaign process, but it's not something that we had anything to do with or were aware of," he told CNN's "Larry King Live" on Monday.

"Frankly, given what it looks like, we don't have the technical capacity to create something like this. It's pretty extraordinary."

The only clue to who might be behind the mysterious ad was a posting signed "ParkRidge 47" -- apparently a reference to Clinton, who was born in 1947 in Park Ridge, Illinois. (Watch a new clue to the identity of ParkRidge47 Video)

CNN's email to the ParkRidge 47's post went unanswered, but Michah Sifry, editor of, which monitors the nexus of technology and presidential politics, did get a response. The person behind the post told Sifry, "I want this ad to speak for itself, I'm not going to say who I am."

"But they obviously thought of this as a grass-roots attack on Hillary Clinton," Sifry said.

The grass-roots element the Internet is bringing to the campaign process is what is really drawing attention.

"This is an historic shift from a world in which a few important media outlets kind of control the dialogue to a game where anyone can play," said Howard Kurtz, the media critic for The Washington Post and host of CNN's "Reliable Sources."

And unlike ads in newspapers or on television and radio, the sources of Internet attack ads like the Clinton YouTube spot can remain anonymous.

"It's not perfect," Sifry said. "It would be better if the person who made this was open about who they are so we can judge fully whether it is genuinely a piece of voter-generated content or a dirty trick."

An Internet ad shows Sen. Hillary Clinton giving excerpts of her speeches to a mesmerized audience.




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