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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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In his opening remarks, Phillips included "card check" in his list of legislation his followers need to defeat, referring to the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to unionize.

It occurred to me that liberal analysts like me have been too literal as we have tried to assess just which corporate interests are behind the mobs. (Of with groups like AFP, we have only a snapshot of where their money comes from; they are not required by law to publicly disclose that information.)

The easy assumption is that the resistance all comes from the health-care industry, since it will be the most directly affected by the bill. But that's thinking too small.

This is about something much bigger -- Very Big Business writ large, and amplified and organized by one very big media mogul.

Murdoch's personal political views appear to come down to three: he's against regulation of virtually any kind, he hates taxes and he's a union-buster, famous for breaking the unions at British newspapers he owns.

In not so many words, Kerpen essentially spelled out the Murdoch agenda when explaining to the AFP crowd why health-care reform, even without a public option, is a bad thing: "They're going to mandate by law that employers must provide health insurance. They're going to mandate by law that every individual must buy it. They're going to massively subsidize it from taxpayers. They're going to regulate it every single way to micromanage it."

A Research 2000 poll released this week by the Daily Kos (the organization that sponsored Netroots Nation) found that a whopping 65 percent of Republicans believe Fox to be a reliable news source, and that 74 percent of Republicans never watch CNN, while 89 percent never watch MSNBC.

This week's NBC/ Wall Street Journal poll shows that those who believe the lies promoted about health-care reform legislation -- the tropes that it includes taxpayer-funded abortion and mandatory end-of-life counseling -- are overwhelmingly Republican. Rachel Maddow reported [video] that 75 percent of those who say they believe the Democratic health-care plan will limit care to the elderly watch Fox News.

But a disinformation campaign by which viewers absorb twisted "facts" is not enough for Murdoch. He's sending his minions out to rallies like AFP's to spread the fear. And with his 9-12 Project, Beck is Murdoch's community organizer, rallying the troops to turn up at events where they have been known to misbehave.

I doubt Murdoch cares how many sponsors Beck's show loses as a result of his rants; in terms of the greater dividends he's bound to reap from the derailing of health care, Net neutrality and energy reform, he can afford to keep Beck on as a loss leader.

Real People Told Real Lies

Throughout the RightOnline program, liberals and mainstream media were derided for characterizing town-hall disrupting tea-baggers as an angry mob. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was predictably derided for his description of movement leaders as "evilmongers."

But that's just grist for the mill compared to the stunning displays of deception trotted out in plain view before the Tea Party enthusiasts.

Phillips opened the program suggesting that a White House request for Americans to submit, through an e-mail address, questionable claims made about the health-care legislation in media or elsewhere was a Nixonian "enemies list" operation, "asking Americans to turn in other Americans for fishy e-mails …"

"I hope and encourage you to go to that Web site and turn in yourself," he added.