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Carmen Trutanich paid for YouTube views of campaign video

March 4, 2012 |  7:24 am

Carmen.trutanichAn unlikely Internet sensation has struck it big on YouTube: Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich.

Two polished videos promoting his run for district attorney last month show Trutanich driving the gritty streets of Los Angeles telling war stories from his days as a prosecutor, being shot at by a street gang and sending a killer to death row.

Within days, the videos amassed 725,000 views on YouTube, with the most popular clip leaping past any campaign video from GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum. A Trutanich news release trumpeted the videos' popularity as showcasing "broad support behind Trutanich's candidacy from a vast online and grass-roots audience."

But the campaign statement left out a key detail: It paid for many of those YouTube views.

After The Times questioned the video's view count, Trutanich's campaign acknowledged that it had hired an online marketing firm to drum up views by aggressively advertising the videos across the Internet. The Los Angeles firm said it was paid to generate 150,000 to 250,000 views but that a huge online audience then followed naturally.

But several social media experts questioned how many of the views were from genuinely interested people. YouTube recently suspended the accounts of most of the users who left positive comments on the Trutanich videos, citing violations of its policy against commercially deceptive content. Meanwhile, a Connecticut-based online video promoter told The Times that his firm was paid to generate 400,000 views for the Trutanich clips — far more than the campaign says it paid for.


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-- David Sarno and Jack Leonard

Photo: Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times