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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Web blunder boosts Bush bashers
Dick Cheney, US vice-president, AP
Mr Cheney got his web addresses confused
A slip of the tongue by Dick Cheney has given a boost to anti-Bush campaigners.

During a televised debate Mr Cheney told viewers to visit factcheck.com when answering accusations by vice presidential nominee John Edwards.

But rather than being the address of a project to check the facts politicians use, the site merely hosts adverts.

Soon after being mentioned, it began redirecting visitors to the website of billionaire George Soros, who is very critical of the Bush administration.

Site seeing

The opening page of the Soros website displays a banner headline reading: "President Bush is endangering our safety, hurting our vital interests and undermining American values."

Mr Cheney's slip was caused by him wrongly recalling the web address of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Center which lives at factcheck.org.

Screengrab of message on Georgesoros.com, BBC
Georgesoros.com told visitors why they were seeing the site
The vice president mentioned Factcheck.com when Mr Edwards tackled him about his time as chief executive of oil services firm Halliburton, which has won a lot of government work in Iraq.

Defending himself Mr Cheney said his opponent was using Halliburton as a smokescreen and anyone wanting the proper facts should look on the web.

More than 44 million people watched the televised debate between Mr Cheney and Mr Edwards.

Reports suggest that thousands turned to the web to find out for themselves.

As traffic to the Factcheck.com ad site mushroomed, its owners decided to re-direct people to Georgesoros.com.

"This was to relieve stress on the service and to express a political point of view," said a spokesman for Factcheck.com.

At the busiest times more than 100 people per second were visiting Factcheck.com.

'Mostly right'

Soon after the re-directing started, Mr Soros' site posted a notice explaining that it did not own the Factcheck.com website and was not responsible for the diversion.

Screengrab of Factcheck.org website, BBC
Mr Cheney meant to tell people about this site
Mr Cheney could not even win support from the Factcheck.org website.

In a statement the site's editors said the vice president "wrongly implied that we had rebutted allegations Edwards was making about what Cheney had done as chief executive officer of Halliburton."

"In fact we did post an article pointing out that Cheney hasn't profited personally while in office from Halliburton's Iraq contracts, as falsely implied by a Kerry TV ad," the statement said.

It concluded: "Edwards was talking about Cheney's responsibility for earlier Halliburton troubles. And in fact, Edwards was mostly right."

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28 Sep 04  |  Americas
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Halliburton hopes for better days
24 Sep 04  |  Business
The future of facts
04 Oct 04  |  Technology

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