The Guardian yesterday ran up the white flag and called a halt to "Operation Clark County", the newspaper's ambitious scheme to recruit thousands of readers to persuade American voters in a swing state to kick out President George W Bush in next month's election. The cancellation of the project came 24 hours after the first of some 14,000 letters from Guardian readers began arriving in Clark County. The missives led to widespread complaints about foreign interference in a US election.
It also prompted a surge of indignant local voters calling the county's Republican party offering to volunteer for Mr Bush.
Now this next bit is quite an entertaining bit of doublespeak.
Albert Scardino, the paper's executive editor for news, simultaneously denied and conceded that an early halt had been called to the project. "It is roaringly, successfully completed. It has been an overwhelming triumph," he said.
He then acknowledged that no more addresses were being distributed, blaming attacks on The Guardian website by Right-wing hackers.
"If we had not had the technical problem of the assault we would have completed the distribution of names in orderly fashion," he said. "We were able to give fewer addresses [of voters in Clark County] than we hoped. There were 14,000 names and addresses sent out. We would like to have made it possible to reach another 42,000 people."
It was completed successfully; we just had to end it early without having sent out as many addresses as we wanted to. That's good. :)
Now just to top it all off:
Yet there is one last Guardian letter [Linda Rosicka, director of the Clark County board of elections] would still like to see - one containing a cheque for $25 (about £13), which the newspaper still owes her for its purchase of the county's electoral roll.
"I was nice and made the file available, because their reporter said he was right on deadline," she said. "They said the cheque is in the mail. As of this morning, it still hasn't arrived, and it's been more than a week."
All this and the Guardian still hasn't even paid for the list.
(Thanks to Jake Allen for the recent links to the Telegraph articles.)