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On Tea Parties and Astroturf.

Sarah Janecek over at Politics in Minnesota offered her take on whether the "tea parties" held yesterday were astroturf events as opposed to real grassroots event.

Linking to a map sent by tea party organizers to the media, saying "that’s about as grassroots as you can get."

Since ABM was among the groups shedding light on the DC-based corporate lobbying groups behind the tea parties, I wanted to offer a bit more context.

The driving forces behind the national tea party "movement" is about as far from "grass roots" as you can get. Sure, there were people who showed up on their own (Minnesota doesn’t seem to have been one of the states blanketed with robo-calls), but if you look behind the curtain you discover a long history of involvement of right-wing media personalities, corporate lobbying groups, conservative issue advocacy organizations, and GOP political operatives.

TPM asked, "Who first proposed holding tea party events? When did major conservative organizations get involved? And how much support have they gained along the way?" Well, The answer to the first question is "FreedomWorks." The answer to the second question is "right from the start." And the answer to the last question is "less than you’d expect, given the months of hype."

Check out the timeline and you’ll see that the tea party "movement" was the brainchild of lobbyist-run front groups. FreedomWorks alone organized conference calls among activists, distributed resource manuals, provided sign ideas, and built the websites. (BTW, FreedomWorks has been exposed for making amateur-looking websites to promote Armey’s lobbying interests in the past). Not to mention all the help they got from Fox News.

These weren’t spontaneous citizen uprisings so much as they were events whose execution was facilitated by an infrastructure and generic template created by lobbyists to serve the interests of their corporate clients.

That’s astroturfing.

And it’s not the first time these groups have tried to pass a top-down, corporate-driven movement off as grassroots.

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