One of the most patently dishonest campaign tactics is for a candidate to put up a fake website purporting to report “news” that is really there to attack his or her political opponent. Who would do such a thing? Well, one good bet would be a U.S. Senator who already narrowly escaped conviction on bribery charges because his providing political favors to a “friend” who showered him with gifts could be proven to result from a quid pro quo arrangement.
Sure enough, the new website HealthNewsNJ.com, with the exception of a tiny-print disclosure at the bottom of its home page does all it can to convince readers that it is an independent news site. In reality, it is a campaign-run hit site put up by the campaign of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) to attack his opponent, Bob Hugin, the former CEO of the pharmaceutical company Celgene. A typical post on the website, which runs below a byline crediting it to “HealthNewsNJ Staff,” is titled: “How greedy drug company CEO Bob Hugin gouged cancer patients and enabled Donald Trump.” On Facebook, the site’s page calls itself a “news and media website.” Neither it nor the HealthNewsNJ Twitter account mentions a tie to Menendez or his campaign.
Putting up a fake website like this is signature significance. Menendez is willing to deceive the public. He’s a liar, by definition. He cannot be trusted.
Luckily for him, he’s running in New Jersey, so it probably won’t matter.