Astroturf-uh-gate

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Astroturf-uh-gate

Postby carsonfire on Sun Jan 24, 2010 7:12 pm

This may not have entered your radar screens yet. Several conservative blogs have discovered what appears to be an extensive, systematic astroturfing of the letters columns and opinion pages of papers throughout the country. That is, a small number of (apparently) fictional or front names authoring pro-Obama, anti-Republican letters, all with similar styles, and in some cases the exact same content.

Here's as good a place to start as any:

http://patterico.com/2010/01/24/still-m ... ma-letter/
Now that people are paying attention, the Astroturfers are coming out of the woodwork:

Jan Chen of Seattle writes to the Northwest Asian Weekly (a small Asian paper serving the Seattle area):

As one listens to the Republican anger over health care reform, one can imagine an anti-government protester cheerfully paying premiums on insurance policies that drop you after you make a claim, or happily sauntering out of an emergency room that denied them treatment because of a coverage problem. One can imagine a town hall sign-waver enthusiastically forking over most of their pay to bill collectors after suffering a catastrophic injury, thinking, “Wow, the free market system is great.”


Meanwhile, Gloria Elle writes to the Baltimore Chronicle — on the same page as Mark Spivey and Ellie Light:

As one listens to the Republican anger over health care reform, one can imagine an anti-government protester cheerfully paying premiums on insurance policies that cancel you for making a claim, or happily sauntering out of an emergency room that denied them treatment because of a coverage problem. One can imagine a town-hall sign-waver enthusiastically forking over most of their pay to bill collectors after suffering a catastrophic injury, thinking, “Wow, the free market system is great.”


Jan Chen and Gloria Elle certainly have a similar writing style, don’t they?


The part I boldfaced will go right past you if you haven't been following. Mark Spivey and Ellie Light are two of the already-caught astroturfing names. On one page. That's a lot of astroturf!

The story is exploding. There is Astroturf everywhere.

Go find some yourself. Just take phrases from suspicious-looking letters and put the phrases into Google and see what you find. Then report back here.

UPDATE: Liberrocky found another one: Jen Park and Lars Deerman writing the same letter to different publications. Lars Deerman writes to the Deccan Herald:

I hear the Obama Administration talk of getting a health bill passed by compromise.
Maybe the so-called public option can be used as a bargaining chip to bring the Republicans to the table.

So what do the Republicans say? That Obama is not a U.S. citizen, and has no right to be President, that his plans are Socialist and contain death panels.They hope the Obama Presidency fails.

I cannot think of a single nice thing that a Republican Congress member has ever said about Obama or his plans. Not one. Can you? Where does Obama get the idea that Republicans want to work with him? They clearly don’t want to.

Lars Deerman


And Jen Park writes at the Baltimore Chronicle:

I hear the Obama Administration talk of getting a health bill passed by compromise. Maybe the so-called public option can be used as a bargaining chip to bring The Republicans to the table. So what do the Republicans say? That Obama is not a U.S. citizen, and has no right to be President, that his plans are socialist and contain death panels, and that they hope the Obama Presidency fails. I cannot think of a single nice thing that a Republican congressmember has ever said about Obama or his plans. Not a one. Can you? Where does Obama get the idea that Republicans want to work with him? They clearly don’t want to.


This is the very same Baltimore Chronicle page with letters from Ellie Light and Mark Spivey.

Oh — and there’s also one from Lars Deerman.


Keep watching this one. The letters column may seem like kid's stuff compared to the internet these days, but if this can be connected to a central source, it has the potential to be another Rathergate. If the administration's fingers can be found on it (there is some possible connection between this and tactics once espoused by one of Obama's aides), it will be a full-fledged scandal.
Cars, as always
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