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Mudslinging on the Internet

With five months to go in the election season, a barrage of presidential campaign ads has begun -- on the World Wide Web. Political ad content isn't restricted by law when it's delivered online, and the assaults are markedly vicious. "The Internet will now be the place where you hit below the belt, you sling the mud and then get out of Dodge before anybody figures out you know who did it," says Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Television and radio ads, by contrast, require candidates to take explicit responsibility by announcing their personal approval of the content. Wyden, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), has proposed legislation that would extend those requirements to the Internet and other media.

But some experts question how effective the legislation would be at reducing the negative blitz. Brooks Jackson, director of the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization FactCheck.org, says that with the race currently under way between President Bush and Sen. Kerry, "neither one of these gentlemen has a whole lot of problem taking credit for some rough stuff said about his opponents."

NPR's Linda Wertheimer spoke with Wyden and Jackson about today's Internet mudslinging.

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