Astroturfing, the new propaganda plague

If you're reading this article online, you probably do know about astroturfing, but your friends who are less computer savvy do not: Astroturfing is the attempt to create the feeling of a grassroots movement by planting stories around the web through the use of paid or volunteer spammers.

The consequences of astroturfing will reach far more people than know the meaning of the term, and I ask you to bring this propaganda technique to their attention.

Jim Treacher has led the way in documenting the Obama astroturf effort.

One of the people most involved in astroturf activities is Obama's chief campaign adviser,   David   Axelrod. Of him, Treacher observes:

[A]fter about 20 seconds with Google, I found this interesting tidbit from the March '08 issue of Business Week. It's about how Axelrod juggles his work for AKP&D Message & Media, his Chicago-based political consultancy business, with his work for another PR company he runs:

From the same River North address, Axelrod operates a second business, ASK Public Strategies, that discreetly plots strategy and advertising campaigns for corporate clients to tilt public opinion their way. He and his partners consider virtually everything about ASK to be top secret, from its client roster and revenue to even the number of its employees. But customers and public records confirm that it has quarterbacked campaigns for the Chicago Children's Museum, ComEd, Cablevision, and AT&T.

ASK's predilection for operating in the shadows shows up in its work. On behalf of ComEd and Comcast, the firm helped set up front organizations that were listed as sponsors of public-issue ads. Industry insiders call such practices "Astroturfing," a reference to manufacturing grassroots support. Alderman Brendan Reilly of the 42nd Ward, who has been battling the Children's Museum's relocation plans, describes ASK as "the gold standard in Astroturf organizing. This is an emerging industry, and ASK has made a name for itself in shaping public opinion and manufacturing public support."

On August 30, Little Green Footballs noticed what appeared to be a pro-Palin  web site   but, in fact, was one clearly designed to turn off her socially conservative supporters:

Suddenly appearing among the Google search results for "sarah palin gay," a web site titled: Sarah Palin Supports Gay Rights.

Sarah Palin (GOV-Alaska-Republican), supports gay rights, says Anchorage Daily News.

Quote "Gov. Sarah Palin vetoed a bill Thursday that sought to block the state from giving public employee benefits such as health insurance to same-sex couples."

Quote ""It is the Governor's intention to work with the legislature and to give the people of Alaska an opportunity to express their wishes and intentions whether these benefits should continue," the statement from Palin's administration said."

Coghill said he's interested in a new plan that would allow state employees to designate one person - maybe a same-sex partner, but also possibly a family member or roommate - who would be eligible for state-paid benefits. But the employee would have to pay to add that person to his or her benefits."

Sarah Palin's veto gave gays the same rights as married couples in Alaska.

A vote for McCain/Palin is a vote for gay marriage.

Interesting. There's nothing else on the page. This sure looks like the work of the dastardly right-wing anti-gay attack machine, doesn't it?
Tracing the source of the post, LGF found:

Why, you're redirected to none other than, the official Barack Obama site that's supposed to be defending him against smears.

Looks like they may have a second purpose: to generate a few smears of their own.

Jim Treacher also noted the viral spread from an anonymous post on Kos of the meme Jesus was a community organizer:

If you Google "Jesus was a community organizer" "Pilate was a governor", suddenly that moronic non sequitur is all over the place. Hundreds of results, and I'll give you a cookie made of dreams if you can find one dated before Sept. 4. Purely spontaneous, right?

Way to get rid of the "He thinks he's the Messiah" meme, geniuses. Astroturfing sucks, but if it helps turn even more people away from a witless crybaby like Obama, who wants to be president because otherwise it's not fair, that works for me. We are the spam we've been waiting for.

And you'll never guess where this wonderful, poetic grassroots slogan "originated". It's attributed only to "a reader." Kos is such an idiot that he couldn't even come up with a fake name to put it under. How about "Sparack Spobama"? "Spavid Spaxelrod"? (I wonder if this Kos page will be deleted, just like the one that launched the utterly deranged conspiracy theory about Palin's youngest son? Get the disinfo out there, and then remove the source. Orwell was an amateur.)

It is increasingly obvious that Kos is at the center of this scam

I figure the process goes something like this:

But that, of course is not the only way astroturfing works. Sometimes, as we noted in the first example, the scam posts appear on a website which seems support the candidate or  a particular issue.

I haven't seen so much  airtime given clearly astroturfed sod since the Democrats' great Foley scam in the 2006 election, but I expect it will only increase  until election day. Help me fight it. Please.
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