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Sunday, March 01, 2009

This should surprise no one
Posted by Jill | 7:47 AM
I don't know why any of us are even surprised to find out things like this anymore:

I was interviewed by several journalists last week about Rick Santelli’s Rant — my exact quote was it had a “Faux” feel to it. (I haven’t seen it in print yet)

What was so odd about this was that Santelli is usually on the ball; we usually agree more often than we disagree. He’s been repsosible for some of the best moments on Squawk Box.

But his rant somehow felt wrong. After we’ve pissed through over $7 trillion dollars in Federal bailouts to banks, brokers, automakers, insurers, etc., this was a pittance, the least offensive of all the vast sums of wasted money spent on “losers” to use Santelli’s phrase. It seemed like a whole lot of noise over “just” $75 billion, or 1% of the rest of the total ne’er-do-well bailout monies.

It turns out that there may be more to the story then originally met the eye, according to (yes, really) Playboy magazine.


“How did a minor-league TV figure, whose contract with CNBC is due this summer, get so quickly launched into a nationwide rightwing blog sensation? Why were there so many sites and organizations online and live within minutes or hours after his rant, leading to a nationwide protest just a week after his rant?

What hasn’t been reported until now is evidence linking Santelli’s “tea party” rant with some very familiar names in the Republican rightwing machine, from PR operatives who specialize in imitation-grassroots PR campaigns (called “astroturfing”) to bigwig politicians and notorious billionaire funders. As veteran Russia reporters, both of us spent years watching the Kremlin use fake grassroots movements to influence and control the political landscape. To us, the uncanny speed and direction the movement took and the players involved in promoting it had a strangely forced quality to it. If it seemed scripted, that’s because it was.

What we discovered is that Santelli’s “rant” was not at all spontaneous as his alleged fans claim, but rather it was a carefully-planned trigger for the anti-Obama campaign. In PR terms, his February 19th call for a “Chicago Tea Party” was the launch event of a carefully organized and sophisticated PR campaign, one in which Santelli served as a frontman, using the CNBC airwaves for publicity, for the some of the craziest and sleaziest rightwing oligarch clans this country has ever produced. Namely, the Koch family, the multibilllionaire owners of the largest private corporation in America, and funders of scores of rightwing thinktanks and advocacy groups, from the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine to FreedomWorks. The scion of the Koch family, Fred Koch, was a co-founder of the notorious extremist-rightwing John Birch Society.”

The problem with this kind of orchestrated effort ("Swiftboat Veterans for 'Truth'", anyone?) is that it hides corporate propaganda behind a wall of faux populism and concern for "the little guy." And how many people are going to do the digging that's required to find out what's behind this kind of orchestrated effort?

The problem here is not funding by advocacy groups. I'm sure that some of our regular trolls (*cough* Barry *cough*) are going to invoke a) Moveon.org, b) Media Matters, c) conservatives' favorite villain, George Soros; or d) all of the above. But there's a difference between an advocacy group running advertisements, or even someone like Soros providing some of the funding for such groups, and this kind of astroturfing, designed to make corporate interests seem like some kind of grassroots revolt.

(h/t: Skippy)

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Blogger Jennifer said...
Ah! Now it all makes sense.
And you're correct. I'm not surprised.
And reported by Playboy? How strange is that? A new source for investigative journalism?
(There's a joke in there somewhere. My coffee hasn't kicked in yet.)

Blogger Cirze said...
Nice save, Jill!

Struck me initially the same way. Even Jim Kunstler was taken in.

Blogger Unknown said...
>...conservatives' favorite villain, George Soros...

But if I criticized him, I'd be anti-Semitic. You know, it's a "code word."