The Tea Party Propaganda Factory You Probably Don't Know About
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The 2010 Supreme Court decision permitting unlimited campaign spending by corporations, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, is one of the most momentous rulings in U.S. legal history. It transforms the long but unspoken truth of American politics – corporate wealth buys legislative power -- into the law of the land.
The Court’s judgment adds one more nail to the coffin of transparent governance based on popular democracy. The unlimited financing and unreported accountability of the media message complements generous campaign contributions, well-paid lobbyists and effective regulatory capture to further ensure that corporate wealth maintains political influence. The Court’s decision is the icing on the cake to an era of unprecedented class polarization, with the rich seizing an ever greater share of the nation’s wealth.
As has been much reported since the decision was handed down in January 2010, the Court overturned a lower court decision and found that a corporation’s First Amendment protections overruled the 2002 McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act.
At issue was Hillary: The Movie, a film produced by Citizens United, a staunch rightwing political action group. Since its founding in 1988, Citizens United has matured into one of the nation’s leading documentary production companies. Its films are produced, written and directed by reputable industry professionals and hosted by well-known rightwing figures like Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson. To date, it has released 17 full-length documentaries on such topics as Ronald Reagan, Bill and Hillary Clinton, 9/11, Barack Obama, the UN, conservative womanhood, and religion.
Citizens United is a cornerstone member of a growing praetorian guard furthering the interests of the super-rich. This guard includes law firms, think tanks, policy groups, PR firms, astroturf organizations, co-opted civil-rights groups, talking-head bloviators and unquestioning reporters who further a well-orchestrated rightwing, corporatist propaganda agenda.
In the all-important areas of the media message, Citizens United is the leading voice and vision of the Tea Party agenda. Would-be “pranksters” James O'Keefe and Andrew Breitbart are creative hacks, having lost all credibility due to their ham-fisted manipulations of phony revelations.
In America’s secular-capitalist and corporate-religious society, the battle over ideas, beliefs and knowledge is the battle for the citizen’s soul. The Murdock enterprise and talk radio are the most obvious voices of rightwing propaganda. Citizens United is just as pernicious.
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Sleaze runs deep in American politics. During the Revolutionary War, British propaganda circulated scurrilous rumors that General Washington engaged in a number of illicit relations. One alleged he had a mistress; another claimed he kept a corporal’s wife at his campsite; still another alleged he had an adulterous liaison with a neighbor’s wife and she bore his out-of-wedlock child.
In our modern era, the most controversial propaganda campaign is the notorious Willie Horton ad used in the 1988 presidential race. The election pitted George H.W. Bush against Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis. The ad assailed Dukakis’ “liberal” prison polices, effectively painting him with the racist brush, the Republican party's unspoken secret weapon.
Horton was a Massachusetts felon serving a life sentence for murder; he was mysteriously granted a weekend pass, and while out of prison committed an assault, armed robbery and a rape. The ad, the brainchild of Floyd Brown, linked Horton to Dukakis and played a critical role in Bush’s victory.
Brown was the founder and first president of Citizens United. Prior to founding Citizens United, he served as political director of Americans for Bush and was president of the board of the Reagan Ranch, a division of the Young America's Foundation. Ever the opportunist, he now serves as president of Excellentia, Inc., an Internet video venture "specializing in marketing to conservatives and Christians.” Brown continues to do battle in rightwing politics, most recently serving as the media adviser to Joe Miller’s ill-fated 2010 Tea Party campaign in Alaska to unseat incumbent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski.