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Cheney Slip Sends Surfers to Wrong Site


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WASHINGTON (AP) - All he wanted were the facts. But Dick Cheney ended up generating confusion- and lots of it.

A slip of the tongue by the vice president during Tuesday night's debate with Sen. John Edwards led Web surfers to a site run by George Soros, a billionaire who makes no secret of his opposition to the Bush administration.

In answering a question about his involvement with Halliburton, Cheney meant to direct people to FactCheck.org, a nonpartisan site run by the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center. He urged people watching the debate to go to the site for facts countering Edwards' statements about the corporation Cheney used to run.

But Cheney cited FactCheck.com, a for-profit advertising site based in the Cayman Islands.

The company decided to redirect traffic to the Soros site after it became inundated with hits - about 100 a second after the debate, John Berryhill, a Philadelphia lawyer for FactCheck.com, said Wednesday.

"This was to relieve stress on the service and to express a political point of view," said Berryhill, who spoke with the site's administrators shortly after the debate ended.

They picked Soros not only for his political views, Berryhill said, but because the billionaire could afford the costly deluge of hits the site would receive in the wake of the debate. Plus, the site administrators didn't want to point surfers to a candidate's site that was asking for money.

Web site operators typically pay fees to the companies that host their sites. The more hits a site receives, the more its operator pays.

Soros was not advised of the switch and did not know it had taken place until Wednesday, said a spokesman, Jeremy Ben-Ami.

"We are as surprised as anyone by this turn of events but certainly encourage voters to visit both of these valuable sites," Michael Vachon, a senior aide to Soros, said in a statement.

An unprecedented number of visitors to FactCheck.org caused the site to crash several times Wednesday, said Brooks Jackson, the site's director.


On the Net:

Annenberg Political Fact Check: www.factcheck.org

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