Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

22 January 2007

Where the Senate Goes, Astroturf Grows


You may have heard the term "Astroturfing". It refers to the "grass-roots" organizations set up by companies and cronies to try and skew public opinion. Lately a staple of such efforts is the astroturf blog, a fake online journal designed to massage public opinion like a $20 "host/ess" in a Thai bath-house, for similar reasons.

Via a new favourite of mine, the Pump Handle I have found The Questionable Authority, which has an excellent and thorough article about someone trying to organize "grass-roots" resistance to a US lobbying reform bill.Richard A. Viguerie describes the bill as intrusive and anti-first amendment. He claims that thousands of independant bloggers will be made criminals.

He does not, however, explain that the law is crafted to apply specifically to astroturfers. Nor that his business is of the sort that would be negatively impacted.

For a start, finding the article as PR Newswire should alert people to what's up. Not that PRNW is necessarily corrupt, but PR is a murky pool to swim in. Then there's the website: shiny-new "grassrootsfreedom.com". Which is loud on emotion, but ultra-thin on substance.

Does this sound as though someone's trying to build support for a nothing "cause" using a faux-grassroots organization? Hmmm ... wouldn't that be astroturfing?

For interests' sake, the bill specifically states:
The term `paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying' means any paid attempt in support of lobbying contacts on behalf of a client to influence the general public."
Italics mine.

I'd start saving for the lobbyist registration fees now, Mr. Viguerie.

Starting "think-tanks" (see American Enterprise Institute) used to be the preferred form for corrupting public opinion, then it became paid "research" (see Exxon and jury awards). Now, moving with the times, it's partisan bloggers and outright fake "not-for-profit" organizations.

For myself, I welcome such "regulatory interference".

2 Comments:

At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Metro-Boy,

On to more important things. Who ya pickin in the Super Bowl? The Colts or the Bears? I say Indianapolis by 17.

EVH

 
At 1:18 PM, Blogger Metro said...

You're on! Chicago by 6. Loser buys the winner a CD of smooth jazz. Just an EP though--I can't afford an LP.

 

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