Clinton-knocking website catches Sanders’ eye, gets swamped
By Associated Press | February 19, 2016, 13:26 EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jed McChesney awoke Friday morning to find that his website had crashed. When he glanced up at MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” he learned why: Bernie Sanders had tweeted it to his 1.5 million followers.
McChesney had made the site, iwilllookintoit.com, earlier this month, after hearing Hillary Clinton say those words in a Democratic presidential debate. That was her response when asked whether she would release transcripts of her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs and other big banks.
Clinton’s speeches were on McChesney’s mind. A day earlier, she’d seemed dismissive of the six-figure fees the banks had given her when she said in an interview that’s what they’d offered her.
“To me, it was the equivalent of her saying, ‘Let them eat cake,'” McChesney said. And that’s when the 40-year-old web developer in Olathe, Kansas said he became a fan of Sanders, whom he calls “genuine” and “the real deal.”
Within a few days, McChesney had donated $650 to the campaign and created the now-famous website. It’s exceedingly basic, with red text on a white background and a running timer showing how long it has been since Clinton uttered the “look into it” promise.
The site had been getting a little news coverage here and there but exploded in popularity after the Sanders tweet. No one from the campaign reached out to him beforehand, McChesney said. “This is all a total surprise,” he said.
The Sanders campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
About 50,000 visitors flooded into the site before the crash, and another 50,000 had clicked in the first two hours after McChesney switched to a larger server and got the site back up, he said.
The site’s temporary error message Friday morning was what helped the The Associated Press track down McChesney. It showed that iwilllookintoit.com is hosted by website promoting the sale of a Kansas ranch owned by McChesney’s parents.
McChesney made the ranch’s website, too.
The Clinton-questioning website took him five minutes to put together, McChesney said, “and it’s the most successful thing I’ve ever done.”
Written by Julie Bykowicz