Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Premeditated Populist Pretense

Monday, March 02, 2009

Premeditated Populist Pretense

UPDATE--The column discussed and quoted below has disappeared from the Playboy Web site, apparently rescinded. There's more information here. We apologize for the misinformation.

The Rick Santelli rant has a new development. A couple of writers at Playboy did some digging and found a number of intriguing connections. (When I checked it, this link was not necessarily Not Safe for Work, depending on where you work, I suppose, but I imagine that the domain name itself could raise eyebrows in certain workplaces--you've been warned.)

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. As veteran Russia reporters, both of us spent years watching the Kremlin use fake grassroots movements to influence and control the political landscape. To us, the uncanny speed and direction the movement took and the players involved in promoting it had a strangely forced quality to it. If it seemed scripted, that's because it was.

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. Namely, the Koch family, the multibilllionaire owners of the largest private corporation in America, and funders of scores of rightwing thinktanks and advocacy groups, from the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine to FreedomWorks. The scion of the Koch family, Fred Koch, was a co-founder of the notorious extremist-rightwing John Birch Society.

As you read this, Big Business is pouring tens of millions of dollars into their media machines in order to destroy just about every economic campaign promise Obama has made, as reported recently in the Wall Street Journal. At stake isn't the little guy's fight against big government, as Santelli and his bot-supporters claim, but rather the "upper 2 percent"'s war to protect their wealth from the Obama Adminstration’s economic plans. When this Santelli "grassroots" campaign is peeled open, what"s revealed is a glimpse of what is ahead and what is bound to be a hallmark of his presidency.

John Amato has some more at Crooks and Liars. This is a situation that bears watching.


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