Sunday, March 01, 2009

"Spontaneous" Propaganda

A few weeks back on CNBC, a non-descript reporter by the name of Rick Santelli called for a Chicago Tea Party to protest the economic legislation from our current Democratic Congress and the Obama administration. According to The Chicago Tribune, Santelli, who must be oblivious to the past eight years, stated:
"The government is promoting bad behavior," he said, insisting the public should vote "to see if we really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages." This plan, Santelli ranted, reminded him of Cuba, which "used to have mansions and a relatively decent economy" until it "moved from the individual to the collective."
After Santelli rallied against the machine, other conservatives picked up on the "Chicago Tea Party" trope, hoping to start an uber-patriotic grass roots movement.

There is only one problem: the "Chicago Tea Party" grass roots campaign may be nothing more than a top-down movement started by corporate conservative operatives. Showing that people may read the site for the article, the Playboy blog Backstabbers has an interesting take on the situation:
Let’s go back to February 19th: Rick Santelli, live on CNBC, standing in the middle of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, launches into an attack on the just-announced $300 billion slated to stem rate of home foreclosures: “The government is promoting bad behavior! Do we really want to subsidize the losers’ mortgages?! This is America! We're thinking of having a Chicago tea party in July, all you capitalists who want to come down to Lake Michigan, I'm gonna start organizing."

Almost immediately, the clip and the unlikely "Chicago tea party" quote buried in the middle of the segment, zoomed across a well-worn path to headline fame in the Republican echo chamber, including red-alert headlines on Drudge.

Within hours of Santelli's rant, a website called sprang to life. Essentially inactive until that day, it now featured a YouTube video of Santelli’s “tea party” rant and billed itself as the official home of the Chicago Tea Party. The domain was registered in August, 2008 by Zack Christenson, a dweeby Twitter Republican and producer for a popular Chicago rightwing radio host Milt Rosenberg—a familiar name to Obama campaign people. Last August, Rosenberg, who looks like Martin Short's Irving Cohen character, caused an outcry when he interviewed Stanley Kurtz, the conservative writer who first "exposed" a personal link between Obama and former Weather Undergound leader Bill Ayers. As a result of Rosenberg’s radio interview, the Ayers story was given a major push through the Republican media echo chamber, culminating in Sarah Palin’s accusation that Obama was “palling around with terrorists.” That Rosenberg’s producer owns the “” site is already weird—but what’s even stranger is that he first bought the domain last August, right around the time of Rosenburg’s launch of the “Obama is a terrorist” campaign. It’s as if they held this “Chicago tea party” campaign in reserve, like a sleeper-site. Which is exactly what it was. was just one part of a larger network of Republican sleeper-cell-blogs set up over the course of the past few months, all of them tied to a shady rightwing advocacy group coincidentally named the “Sam Adams Alliance,” whose backers have until now been kept hidden from public. Cached google records that we discovered show that the Sam Adams Alliance took pains to scrub its deep links to the Koch family money as well as the fake-grassroots “tea party” protests going on today. All of these roads ultimately lead back to a more notorious rightwing advocacy group, FreedomWorks, a powerful PR organization headed by former Republican House Majority leader Dick Armey and funded by Koch money.

And the war came.


harrogate said...

Excellent write up of this Solon.

Harrogate has been following the Santelli garbage with a heavy heart. Michelle Malkin, by the way, has been rolling around--nay, wallowing--in this "Tea Party" meme since the second this clip aired.

Harrogate commends your fortitude in wading through what you had to wade through, to articulate what these "Tea Parties" really are.

The Roof Almighty said...

It just goes to show: if you follow the Republican money trail far enough, there always is some secret Koch they are hiding.

Who knew that all of their secret Koch money was being used to raise a Dick Armey?

Even with secret PR shenanigans at work, this all still strikes me of the Ewok/Stormtrooper fight in Jedi. Except the Republicans are the Imperials, stomping around in plastic pants with opaque masks attacking the woods.

Playing the Ewoks, as far as they know: queers, welfare mothers, and Mexican sharecropper babies with the croup.