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Whitman accused of faking anti-Brown screen shot in latest ad [Updated]

June 28, 2010 |  4:23 pm

A humor blog's founder accused Meg Whitman’s campaign of faking a screen shot of its website to impugn rival Jerry Brown in Whitman’s newest television ad and demanded that the footage be excised from the video that is in heavy rotation on television stations across the state.

“We demand a written apology from the Whitman campaign and the removal of the video,” wrote Ben Huh, founder of the Cheezburger Network, in a Friday blog post. The network includes FailBlog (the blog that appears in the Whitman ad), as well as the popular “I Can Has Cheezburger?” blog of amusingly captioned cat pictures.

FailBlog is a humor blog that features videos or pictures of someone failing at something he or she is trying to do.

Huh said Monday that he had not heard back from the Whitman campaign and was consulting attorneys.

[Updated at 6:12 p.m.: A Whitman spokeswoman said the campaign has no plans to remove the footage from the ad. "Jerry Brown owned failure 35 years before FailBlog launched its website," said spokeswoman Sarah Pompei. "The only entity with an ownership stake in failure is Jerry Brown Incorporated."]

The 60-second Whitman ad, released last week, features a 1960s/Vietnam War-era theme and includes other manufactured images, including a picture of Brown standing in front of a banner that says “$7 Billion New Taxes” and fake newspaper headlines.

In the Whitman ad, at the 50-second mark, a screen shot that looks like FailBlog’s site shows a picture of Brown with “FAIL” stamped across his forehead.

In a blog post titled “Honesty Fail,” Huh took Whitman to task after hearing from followers.

“Some of you have emailed us concerning a political attack video by the Meg Whitman campaign for California governor which features a screenshot of FAIL Blog attacking the other candidate Jerry Brown,” he wrote. “We want to make it VERY clear that FAIL Blog nor the Cheezburger Network had any involvement or knowledge of the Whitman campaign use of a screenshot of FAIL Blog. In fact, the screenshot portrayed in the video never existed because the Whitman campaign faked the content within the screenshot.”

FailBlog produced its own video pointing out the faked screen shot and also put up a picture of Whitman with “FAIL” stamped across her forehead.

But just in case anyone thinks the folks behind FailBlog are partisans, Huh offered a parting shot at Brown.

“P.S. Jerry Brown, you better not be thinking of using this image or post in your political ad either,” he wrote.

-- Seema Mehta in Los Angeles

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