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Utilizing Public Airwaves, Media Mogul Murdoch Is Big Muscle Behind Fraudulent Astro Turfers

Burrowing inside the radical right's gathering of astroturfers and mouthpieces, AlterNet Reporter Adele Stan discovers what makes the anti-health reform machine tick.

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I checked with the Fox News Washington bureau, and indeed Malkin and Pinkerton are paid by Fox, and are branded by the news channel, listed on the " talent" page of its Web site. Fund and Moore are full-time employees of the Wall Street Journal, and AFP's Kerpen has a weekly platform on Fox's well-traveled Web site.

What Murdoch Hath Wrought

In the cable and broadcast spectrum occupied by Fox News Channel and Fox Television, Murdoch operates through a public trust, as do all cable and broadcast outlets.

As much as he hates to share, Murdoch is using the common property of the United States to turn out mobs at town hall events for the purpose of intimidating members of Congress and spreading disinformation about what's in the health care bills.

There's nothing unusual about media properties whose editorial and opinion content reflects the views of the owner. What's new here is Murdoch's use of his media empire as an organizing tool in a campaign designed not only to affect several very particular pieces of legislation, but concocted to " break," in the words of DeMint, a U.S. president.

While Phillips may have been a little shy about his kinship with Murdoch and his minions, the minions themselves were not.

Speaker after speaker railed against "the left's" campaign against Beck's show (in the wake of Beck calling Obama a racist and worse), and Pinkerton and Moore cheer-led for their employer.

"I should say that, for 13 years now, it's been my enormous privilege to work at Fox News," Pinkerton said from the podium, and although I'm proud of the work that I'm a very small part of that Fox does … I'm watching the effort to boycott Glenn Beck, and I think that it's telling you that it's just a part of the ongoing efforts that you're going to be seeing against Fox as the federal government does its best to squelch what Barack Obama said was his greatest source of pain in the media was Fox."

Likewise, the Wall Street Journal's Moore asked the audience, "What would we do without Fox News and the Wall Street Journal?"

But Pinkerton couldn't let it rest: He kept naming Fox as an integral player in the Tea Party movement, lauding the role of cable television in showing video of raucous town hall events. "This has been very much a TV struggle," he said.

He urged activists in the online community to "work with Fox," and cited a Fox-manufactured controversy about people receiving unsolicited e-mails from the White House as a "major story."

"Keep it up; we'll win," he said.

The Murdoch Agenda

As I listened to the speakers, a I took note of a curious phenomenon. Some bashed the pharmaceutical industry for its reported deal with the White House on health-care reform legislation; others took aim at the health insurance industry.

"The insurance industry is spending tens of millions of dollars supporting this," said Phil Kerpen of and AFP. "Why? Because they know that public option is gonna come out sometime in September, and once the public option is out, they're going to get government-guaranteed profits for life.

"We're going to be forced by law to buy their product, and it's going to be subsidized with our tax dollars. Why not support that? That's a dream for them. Of course they're … supporting it; so are the pharmaceutical companies; they're all supporting it."

Kerpen also asserted that the health-care bill would build "a massive new bureaucracy of federal workers that will be unionized and have control over our lives." Scary. Unionized workers.