In April 1999, ®TMark constructed GWBush.com, a website that at first glance appeared to be that of Republican Presidential candidate George W. Bush (his website is GeorgeWBush.com). ®TMark's first version incurred Bush's wrath, and his lawyers sent a threatening letter. The domain's owner, Zack Exley, then took down the site and attempted to sell his domain to the Bush camp.
By the time ®TMark's second version of GWBush.com was published, with much more content, the Bush campaign had complained to the Federal Elections Commission.
These attacks resulted in a major international news story, which was then magnified by Bush's televised response to a reporter's question about the site: "There ought to be limits to freedom," Bush said--a gaffe that has yet to disappear from public memory. (Click here for audio.)
The Bush campaign's intimidation tactics raised the eyebrows of several constitutional lawyers, who offered to support GWBush.com in potential copyright and electoral procedure lawsuits, arguing that although there ought indeed to be "limits to freedom", restricting free speech and limiting citizens' access to the political process was not the proper place to draw the line.
Shortly after the publicity's peak, Exley, the owner, struck out on his own with a value-added GWBush.com.
Newsworthiness: Care and Feeding
To turn a domain name into a news story, more than just challenging content was needed: also essential was the active participation of George W. Bush.
Bush's cease-and-desist letter and subsequent F.E.C. complaint spiced up the first press release, which created a small wave of publicity.
George W. Bush then further publicized the site by saying, at a televised news conference, that "there ought to be limits to freedom." The second press release capitalized on Bush's assistance and helped drive a new, even bigger wave of publicity.
Please see our press list, which contains as many articles about GWBush.com as we have been able to find online.