“The instructions were clear: Write an article calling out Sara Gideon, a Democrat running for a hotly contested U.S. Senate seat in Maine, as a hypocrite.
Angela Underwood, a freelance reporter in upstate New York, took the $22 assignment over email. She contacted the spokesman for Senator Susan Collins, the Republican opponent, and wrote an article on his accusations that Ms. Gideon was two-faced for criticizing shadowy political groups and then accepting their help.
The short article was published on Maine Business Daily, a seemingly run-of-the-mill news website, under the headline “Sen. Collins camp says House Speaker Gideon’s actions are hypocritical.” It extensively quoted Ms. Collins’s spokesman but had no comment from Ms. Gideon’s campaign.
Then Ms. Underwood received another email: The “client” who had ordered up the article, her editor said, wanted it to add more detail.”