Thanks to the sharp pixels at Mudville Gazette, I've learned a great new word today: "astroturfing." Apparently CBS News, the Washington Post and 199 other newspapers are involved with some activists in an astroturfing campaign. Astroturfing is a term used in public relations and advertising to describe a campaign to create a false impression of widespread public support for an issue or product. Evidently, it's a takeoff on the word grassroots.
Several weeks ago the left wing P.R. agency Fenton Communications, in conjunction with Washington Post, road tested a story about dissension in the ranks. They profiled two Navy Men that supposedly set up http://www.appealforredress.org/. This Web site ostensibly facilitates active-duty, reserve and National Guard troops to appeal directly to Congress to withdraw military personnel from Iraq. This story covered the a news conference announcing that supposedly a 1,000 people have signed appeals. After a successful initial rollout they went national enlisting CBS News 60 minutes in their efforts. All this would be perfectly fine were it not for some very powerful evidence that this is not what it appears to be. CBS hyped this up beyond belief. Mudville Gazette has extensive documentation detailing this clever deception.
Perhaps Howie Kurtz (CNN/WAPO media guru) can do a media story on this campaign. Possible headline: "PR Powerhouse Dupes The Mainstream Media." Despite a literal army of reporters, editors, news assistants, and assorted other lackeys involved in producing news stories the mainstream media continue to getting it wrong -all one way I would add. This systemic failure is yet another black eye for an already embattled industry.