Friday, April 10, 2009

The Conservative 'Spontaneous' Tea Party Uprising

Updated 4/10/09 at 12:58 AM
Think Progress:
Think Progress already reported on Republican lawmakers planning to speak at anti-Obama “tea party” protests taking place nationwide on April 15. Last night, Eric Odom of the DontGo website — one of the organizers of the protests — wrote a blog post stressing that these protests are displays of “regular American[s] in protest of government spending and extreme taxation,” rather than something affiliated with a political party or special interest agenda.

Today on Fox News — which has actively been promoting the protests — Glenn Beck pushed the tea party talking points, similarly claiming that the protests aren’t “coordinated” and are fully organized by “regular” people. Watch it:

Despite these attempts to make the “movement” appear organic, the principle organizers of the local events are actually the lobbyist-run think tanks Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works.

The two groups are heavily staffed and well funded, and are providing all the logistical and public relations work necessary for planning coast-to-coast protests:

Freedom Works staffers coordinate conference calls among protesters, contacting conservative activists to give them “sign ideas, sample press releases, and a map of events around the country.”

Freedom Works staffers apparently moved to “take over” the planning of local events in Florida.

Freedom Works provides how-to guides for delivering a “clear message” to the public and media.

Freedom Works has several domain addresses — some of them made to look like they were set up by amateurs — to promote the protests.

Americans for Prosperity is writing press releases and planning the events in New Jersey, Arizona, New Hampshire, Missouri, Kansas, and several other states.

This type of corporate ‘astroturfing‘ is nothing new to either organization. While working to promote Social Security privatization, Freedom Works was caught planting one of its operatives as a “single mom” to ask questions to President Bush in a town hall on the subject. Last year, the Wall Street Journal exposed Freedom Works for similarly building “amateur-looking” websites to promote the lobbying interests of Dick Armey, the former Republican Majority Leader who now leads Freedom Works and is a lobbyist for the firm DLA Piper.

Americans for Prosperity is run by Tim Phillips, who was Ralph Reed’s former partner in the lobbying firm Century Strategies. The group is funded by Koch family foundations — a family whose wealth is derived from the oil industry. Indeed Americans for Prosperity has coordinated pro-drilling ‘grassroots‘ events around the country.

Originally posted 3/23/09
Republicans are pushing the idea that there is a "spontaneous" populist uprising against President Obama and his efforts to pull the American economy back from the brink of collapse. As they tell the story, the public is so outraged by Obama's economic Recovery and Reinvestment programs that Americans everywhere are forming a "spontaneous" movement to overthrow the tyrannical king of the federal government by re-enacting the Boston Tea Party.

Everything about this so called spontaneous "Tea Party" movement looks more like a preplanned "marketing program" designed to covertly re-launch the old conservative anti-government "product" in a seemingly new spontaneous populist revolt.

Is it coincidence that CNBC's correspondent Rick Santelli rocketed from being a little-known second-string correspondent to a populist hero of the downtrodden American masses suffering under the onslaught of a 21st century socialist big government?

Within minutes after Santelli’s CNBC on-air “rant” calling for a “Chicago Tea Party” to protest President Obama’s economic plans conservative blogs and websites were online live to echo Santelli’s “rant” and call for protest "Tea Party" rallies in cities from coast to coast. Why were so many slick websites and blogs able to get online and live within minutes or hours after Santelli’s rant, calling for a nationwide populist revolt? (one example: the New American Tea Party website)

What hasn’t been widely reported is evidence linking Santelli’s “tea party” rant with some very familiar names from the right wing machine from PR operatives, who specialize in imitation grassroots “AstroTurf'ing” PR campaigns, to billionaire money men known to fund conservative causes and PR blitzes. In marketing terms, Santelli’s February 19th CNBC network "rant" calling for a “Chicago Tea Party” serves as a prefect "launch event" for what appears to be a carefully organized and sophisticated public relations marketing campaign.

Conservative money men are pouring tens of millions of dollars into their media machines to stop Obama's classically Keynesian approach to stimulate the economy through government spending on public infrastructure, to reduce the massive budget deficits left by the Bush Administration by raising taxes on the ultra wealthy and to restore regulatory safeguards on those who irresponsibly exploit the financial systems of the U.S. and world.

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