Forward Your Data-Mined $3 Obama Dinner Invitation

Who says I don't like Anna Wintour and Mariah Carey? It's classist stereotyping for President Obama to use my clothing bills from Ross Dress for Less and my pledge-drive donations to KUSC against me. 

ProPublica is calling for alternate versions of the White House's relentless emails. There are many subtle textual variants of the invitation to tonight's presidential dinner at Sarah Jessica Parker's New York residence, and reporter Jeff Larson wants to get them all: 

For instance, last Monday, the Obama campaign sent out an email about a dinner with the President at Sarah Jessica Parker’s house this coming Thursday. Participants in our Message Machine project forwarded over 100 copies of this mailing to us and we found seven distinct variations of the message. The Obama campaign refused to comment on the email but you can explore the differences in the Message Machine.

Some versions of this message promise, in a postscript, an after-dinner concert by Mariah Carey, while others barely mention the concert. The mailings show the campaign tailoring its message for different audiences — variations of the message ranged from a very brief introduction and a link to a video, to a longer email asking for a donation. Recipients who had recently donated to the Obama campaign received emails with slightly different wording than those who had not, but just who is being targeted with some of the variations is hard to decipher. For instance, one variant mentions that Sarah Jessica Parker is a mother, while another that Anna Wintour is attending the dinner. These changes in wording suggest that the campaign is optimizing their messages, but we need a bigger sample to figure out how.

I got an invitation from the Sex and the City trouper (her email address is info@barackobama.com) back in May, but I didn't get around to responding. A few days later Obama campaign director Katherine Archuleta followed up. 

Since I got the version in which Parker outs herself as a mother, I should point out that I share my eight-year-old kid's skeptical view of Obama's more-than-daily email requests: "I've never heard of a president asking for three dollars."

I also think Wintour's 86ing of her Asma Assad profile was not just bad faith but bad journalism.

And I'll cop to having believed in the nineties that Mariah Carey ripped off Whitney Houston's act, though I have since gained some respect for her staying power. 

But in addition to misgauging my taste (dinner with Parker's Square Pegs co-star Jami Gertz would be more up my alley), the Obama team doesn't even seem to know my zip code. Parker's email bore the neighborly subject line "My place" even though I would have needed to make a transcontinental journey to attend her dinner. But when inviting me to George Clooney's Obama bash just a few minutes from my apartment, Rufus Gifford, the bank president's son who now helps protect the 99 percent as the president's chief fund raiser, promised, "We'll take care of airfare." 

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  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Only seven variations? Hell, we got three variations here.

  • Sevo||

    "Some versions of this message promise, in a postscript, an after-dinner concert by Mariah Carey,..."

    Didn't Obama show up for a 'promised' dinner last week, and then fail to stay for the dinner?
    Is this guy taking 'truth' lessons from slick Willie?

  • Hyperion||

    I would hang out with Willy and drink some brews, at least once. Seriously doubt that I would agree with him much, or at all, politically, but I would love to get him drunk and just listen to what crazy shit he might say. He seems like the sort of guy you could have fun with even though not a political allie. I know a few libbies like that. Obama, I can't even stand the sound of his voice now, and I just really do not like him, at all.

  • ant1sthenes||

    I can buy that.

  • ||

    For a dollar! HAR HAR HAR!

  • Brutus||

    My invite mentioned getting to do Jello shots off of Parker and hate-fucking Wintour.

    What's in this data mine?

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Dude! We didn't get that one... Evidently that that mine has low-grade ore.

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    Jello shots off of George Soros sounds more appealing than that.

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    Fucked up the threaded comment. Sue me!

  • ||

    Careful there, Julep Fruit Cereal, H n'R is crawling with barristers and attorneys...

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Saaay... what IS Arthur up to these days?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    By the way... is it true that Brett Kimberlin fucks donkeys for spare change?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    My invite mentioned getting to do Jello shots off of Parker and hate-fucking Wintour.

    What's in this data mine

    That your good for twenty bucks.

  • SIV||

    So if you win the dinner with Obama and horsey face they do 1099 you, right?

    Dinner,airfare,hotel (I assume you aren't sleeping on SJP's couch)Mariah Carey performance etc.It all adds up to a bit of a tax obligation.

    It must explain all that in the fine print.

  • PapayaSF||

    I am not sure this has anything to do with data mining. It just looks like standard direct marketing practice. When doing mass mailings (emails or snail mail), it's common to send different versions to different (random) sections of the list, and see which versions do better or worse.

  • ||

    It's common to use some demographic data (from the census or other sources) to target your direct mailings, but yes, A/B testing is also considered very important to see what works and what doesn't.

    Basically, these emails look like standard direct marketing.

  • ||

    *waits for Tulpy Poo to skedaddle on by to argue with Epi about parsing addresses*

  • db||

    Speaking of parsing addresses, i can't find a mapping program that's worth a shit for China. Every damn address I put in there is either not found, or shows up far from its real location. Places I've been to I can only find bacause I recognize the site from the satellite picture. It's like every address in China has 4 or 5 alternate physical locations.

  • ||

    There's like 12 Springfields in China.

  • ant1sthenes||

    If he ups his request by half a buck, I think his secret agenda will become clear. Goddamn loch ness monster.

  • JW||

    These letters prove that democracy died tonight! And tomorrow night and the night after that...

    Sorry, I'm very emotional.

  • ||

    *writes an RX for JW*

  • JW||

    Thanks Doc. Can I get an extra script for a *cough* friend?

  • ||

    I'm just always pleased when ProPublica does something useful or interesting, because their managing editor, the estimable Stephen Engelberg, was one of my best friends in junior high school, and one of the few people I've truly enjoyed reconnecting with via facebook; indeed, my correspondence with him is one of the very few things, in my mind anyway, that argues against a Satanic origin for the fucking thing.

  • Broseph of Invention||

    This is totes fly, boyfriend! It looks like you and S-Jess are on the cas' enough that she dropped the "Parker", much more so than the "First Lady". And your girl Katherine is so up for the DL on the deets, you better prepare TC. In the meantime, all the gullible pawns at the Obama for America office are too dumb to realize their chance of winning a double date with Seabiscuit and the Huxtables from Hell is less than their chance of turning that unpaid internship into a cabinet position.

  • PapayaSF||

    Wow, and hey, can I have some of what you're having?

  • ||

    You don't want that stuff. Promise.

  • Paul.||

    Speaking of the president asking for $3, I heard a hard-hitting piece on NPR yesterday where they compared the Republican's post-Citizens cutthroat money-raising skills to the innocent, wide-eyed bushy tailed skills of the democrats.

    Trying to figure out why the Repubs had made so much money on Super-PACs compared to the Dems, NPR turned to a panel of impartial experts: Rep Steve Israel, (D) New York, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, democratic strategist Paul Begala, liberal billionaire Peter Lewis, and Democratic Strategists Carter Eskew and Tad Devine.

    The concensus: Democrats are just too pure of heart to contribute to SuperPACs. Republicans like the Kochs, having no moral scruples will do anything to win and... how can you fight against a group who will do anything so untoward as contributing to a SuperPac?

    I give Eskew at least some points for throwing some ninth-inning cold water on the circle-jerk:

    "A lot of these donors are disappointed in the president," says Demoratic strategist Carter Eskew.

    It could be hedge fund managers mad about the president's criticism of Wall Street or liberals who wanted him to close Guantanamo or big Democratic donors who want to be treated like something more than an ATM.
  • AlmightyJB||

    So since he hasn't exactly entralled the gay lobby, is going to a party by the star of the gay comedy made for gay people going to help him out? NTTAWWT!

  • AlmightyJB||

    made for for gay men. Just to clarify. And again NYYAWWT.

  • ||

    And I'll cop to having believed in the nineties that Mariah Carey ripped off Whitney Houston's act, though I have since gained some respect for her staying power.

    Really, Timmy C? Have you forgotten that abortion of what should have been a career killer, Glitter?

    You disgust me, Tim (though you are still my favourite writer here.)

    Next you'll be saying that Celine Dion is some sort of unbridled talent who puts Linda Ronstadt to shame...

  • Paul.||

    It's looking like Glitter was an anomaly. Movies like Precious and Tennessee show that her acting talents may be underrated.

    As far as her vocal talent, she possesses greater range and technical ability than did Whitney Houston.

    Whitney was certainly no slouch, but Houston's problem, at least from most of what I've ever heard, is that she just yells. Everything's at top volume. It's pitch perfect, but full... volume...

    Carey has the ability to show real voice control, range in volume as well as pitch that I never heard out of Houston.

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