NY Times, WaPo willing tools of astroturf scam

Thanks to bloggers, two liberal newspapers have been busted as willing tools of a sophisticated astroturf PR scam by the Obama camp. Desperate over the wildfire success of the Tea Party movement, an astroturf group, the Coffee Party Movement, was created to be portrayed as "civilized" in contrast to the media caricature of the Tea Parties as racist, violent, and in-bred. Co-opting the energy, and splintering the protests, as well as drawing attention away are the obvious intentions.

David Axelrod is a proud maestro of astroturfing, having ginned up phony grass roots groups for private clients as well as politicians for years before guiding Obama's way to the White House.

Both the New York Times and Washington Post willingly portrayed the political operative who fronted the astroturf group, Annabel Park, as a civic-minded activist. From the Times:

"We're not the opposite of the Tea Party," Ms. Park, 41, said. "We're a different model of civic participation, but in the end we may want some of the same things."

The Tea Party argues for stripping the federal government of many of its roles, and that if government has to be involved, it should be mostly state governments.

"The way I see it," Ms. Park said, "our government is diseased, but you don't abandon it because it's ill. It's the only body we have to address collective problems. You can't bound government according to state borders when companies don't do that, air doesn't. It just doesn't fit with the world."

Still, she said, "we've got to send a message to people in Washington that you have to learn how to work together, you have to learn how to talk about these issues without acting like you're in an ultimate fighting session."

The WaPo described Park as follows, in an online chat it published:

Annabel Park, founder of Coffee Party USA, a grassroots online Facebook/Coffee Party) network which advocates cooperation among elected representatives and promotes civil public discourse, was online Friday, Feb. 26, at 2 p.m. ET to discuss an alternative to the Tea Party movement.

It didn't take long for bloggers to dig up the fact that Park is a professional political operative in t he Obama camp. Thanks to Twitter, Linked-in and cached websites that linger on after being taken down, the evidence is all available. Frank Ross of Big Journalism has assembled the evidence.

... her claim that the Coffee Party is "purely grassroots" and "independent of any party" is laughably rebutted by the fact that the registrant for the website was listed as "Real Virginians For Webb, 14461 Sedona Drive, Gainesville, Virginia 20155" until the information suddenly went private behind a proxy. That's "Webb" as in Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, one of at least two elected Democrats for whom Park has actively campaigned....

The other Democrat? Barack Obama. So intense was her support for the would-be president that Park co-directed a video for the YouTube channel, UnitedForObama, in which she encourages her mother to give a pro-Obama testimonial in their native Korean. The slick four-minute production, titled "Annabel's Mom Takes on Sarah Palin, In Korean!!!," features jaunty piano music and English translations of her mother's homage to Obama, including this comment, which has the vague ring of a "Dear Leader" haiku:

I listened to Obama's speeches/and, though my English isn't perfect/I started to change my mind about him./I came to understand/what he wanted to accomplish/and what we really need is Obama.

What is even more remarkable is that lurking on the web is proof that Park's politics could be no surprise to either paper. She had published an op-ed on the WaPo, and actually worked at the NYT as a researcher!

The willingness of these newspapers to go along with an effort to dupe the public into accepting an astroturf group as a genuine grass roots group is despicable. In this era, it takes only a minute or two to dig up the background of virtually anyone active in politics. Ignoring Park's past is negligence at best.

Hat tip: Lucianne.com