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Right-Wing 'Tea Party' Movement Was Planned Months Ago by GOP Billionaires

Bloggers reveal how the latest so-called "populist" revolt against the federal government was a pre-planned PR stunt.
 
 
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Populist revolt against the U.S. government is all the rage in the Republican Party, these days. As they tell the story, the public is so outraged by the recovery and reinvestment efforts of the Obama administration that Americans everywhere are turning out to overthrow the tyrannical king of the federal government by re-enacting the Boston Tea Party.

Funny thing, though: it turns out this whole "populist" movement was a planned PR stunt funded by big-money right-wing backers of the GOP who specialize in faking grassroots movements to drum up opposition to Barack Obama.

Everything about this so called "Tea Party" movement was pre-planned--from the supposedly "spontaneous rant" of CNBC stock market reporter, Rick Santelli, to the presumed ground-level organizing of protests all over the country. Fake, fake, fake--like a product launch staged covertly to look like a spontaneous trend.

Playboy bloggers Mark Ames and Yasha Levine pulled together all the pieces of this puzzle in an incredible expose ( Exposing The Rightwing PR Machine):

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.

It helps, in other words, to have field experience ferreting out Soviet propaganda to understand how Rick Santelli suddenly became the figurehead of a right-wing "grassroots" revolt against the United States government. It is worth reading the entire post.

The next time you hear that the Tea Party Republican revolt is "grassroots," "spontaneous," and "populist," just swap out those PR keywords for the more accurate terms: "planned," "scripted," "billionaire bigwigs."

All of this makes sense, of course. Santelli's philippic had all the hallmarks of a rehearsed piece of political theater--the pre-planned message launched of a viral marketing campaign.

Not that any of this comes as a surprise, but...my goodness.

Even though the curtain has been pulled back on this astroturf marketing by GOP megabucks elite backers, it is important to keep in mind what the larger stakes are and how to respond.

Scripted or not--this Tea Party revolt needs to be treated as politically real. People engaged in this agitation will not acknowledge ever that it is scripted, because these folks sincerely think they are engaged in some kind of revolution against their own government. They really want the country to evaluate whether or not an elected President and Congress are the same as a tyrannical king and whether a tax by fiat from the 18c is the same as a legislature approved public investment program from the 21c. Those folks just want to make noise--lots of noise--to throw the debate off its tracks.

The big story to defend and advance, in other words, is a president advancing real solutions aimed at helping millions of Americans in serious economic trouble. The agitation against it, whether it is scripted or not, is designed to stop those solutions from being discussed seriously, from unfolding, and then to weaken the president making them happen. That is a basic confrontation between pragmatic action and ideological politics--between investment in people and inaction in the name of dogma.

In the end, then, we need to make themselves aware of the massive resources the right is spending to block any effort by the American people to work together to repair the damage to our economy and restore our national confidence. And after we have made ourselves aware of how far the opposition is willing to go, we need to get back to work making sure the debate states focused on the real issue at hand here: millions and millions families who need help right now, and the greatness of a nation that stands together in times of need to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles.

Jeffrey Feldman is Editor-in-Chief of Frameshop.

 
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