Sunday, March 1, 2009

All The News You Can Stage

What does it tell you about the state of the news business when Playboy Magazine gets a scoop? Yeah, I know, boys. You buy it for the writing. But is Playboy where you expect someone to dig to the bottom of what appears to be a carefully staged use of a "news" network to launch a Conservative anti-Obama campaign?

Here's the articles from the Daily Kos.

CNBC Hoaxes America
by Devilstower
Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 08:50:05 PM PST

It's starting to look like we may all be victims of the biggest product placement ad ever staged, and the product being placed is pure right wing astroturf. In short, America may have been scammed by a collaboration between CNBC and conservative media consultants.

According to an article appearing in Playboy, CNBC's "Chicago Tea Party" was a hoax planned well in advance of Rick Santelli's trading floor meltdown.

But was Santelli’s rant really so spontaneous? How did a minor-league TV figure, whose contract with CNBC is due this summer, get so quickly launched into a nationwide rightwing blog sensation? Why were there so many sites and organizations online and live within minutes or hours after his rant, leading to a nationwide protest just a week after his rant?

What hasn’t been reported until now is evidence linking Santelli’s "tea party" rant with some very familiar names in the Republican rightwing machine, from PR operatives who specialize in imitation-grassroots PR campaigns (called "astroturfing") to bigwig politicians and notorious billionaire funders.

If this article is correct, then CNBC has staged the news, not just a single incident, but a whole string of discussions and programs that have been at the center of CNBC's programming since Santelli's staged rant. And from the evidence -- including the fact that the website used to organize the so-called tea party was created well in advance by the same right wing sources who orchestrated the Obama-Ayers story -- it appears that at least some of those involved were in on the scam.

What we discovered is that Santelli’s "rant" was not at all spontaneous as his alleged fans claim, but rather it was a carefully-planned trigger for the anti-Obama campaign. In PR terms, his February 19th call for a "Chicago Tea Party" was the launch event of a carefully organized and sophisticated PR campaign, one in which Santelli served as a frontman, using the CNBC airwaves for publicity, for the some of the craziest and sleaziest rightwing oligarch clans this country has ever produced.

Maybe this is part of their new cost-cutting measures on CNBC. After all, it's a lot easier to just create the news yourself rather than report it. Or maybe Santelli, whose contract is up soon, was collecting a paycheck from other sources than just NBC.

But if there's any truth to this, more than an apology is going to be necessary.

Vast Rightwing Conspiracy to Torpedo Obama?
by whenwego
Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 05:43:20 PM PST

Remember Rick Santelli, he of the "Chicago Tea Party" fame? Some kind of options trader, he went on CNBC and ranted about how Obama was doing the country a vast disservice. Now it turns out that that rant was no accident, but part of a coordinated rightwing machine to stop Obama's reforms in their tracks.

Very disturbing news:

* whenwego's diary :: ::
* 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.

For example (please read the whole article at Playboy):

On the same day as Santelli's rant, February 19, another site called went live. This site was registered to Eric Odom, who turned out to be a veteran Republican new media operative specializing in imitation-grassroots PR campaigns.

It appears that this is the brain child of the shadowy Sam Adams project:

The Sam Adams Alliance, a nonprofit conservative organization, has started an ambitious project this year to encourage right-leaning activists and bloggers to get online and focus on local and state issues.

And the coordination is now expanding to business interests that are opposed to Obama's programs:

Industries from health care to agribusiness to mining that stand to lose under President Barack Obama's policy agenda are ramping up lobbying campaigns to derail or modify his plans.

The day after Mr. Obama formally laid out his policy goals in his first address to Congress, the former chief executive of HCA Inc. unveiled a $20 million campaign to pressure Democrats to enact health-care legislation based on free-market principles.

And don't bother to ask who is behind the Sam Adams Alliance, because all that is scrubbed:

But it’s the Alliance’s scrubbing of their link to Koch that is most telling. A cached page, erased on February 16, just three days before Santelli’s rant, shows that the Alliance also wanted to cover up its ties to the Koch family.

Okay, kids. I don't want to indulge in the screaming conservative conspiracy game. If you want to launch a sincere effort to derail a policy or a politician, you do it in an organized fashion. I accept that. As a journalist, I have one objection. Santarelli and CNBC. DO NOT stage events with special interests and then call it news. I hope the FCC slaps them silly but wait - the FCC is a joke, isn't it? We are the watchdogs now. I am growling.

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