This post summarizes the evidence of Astroturfing by Obama supporters that surfaced over the weekend.
Astroturfing is phony “grassroots” activity. The term refers to opinions that seem to be genuine — but, in reality, are directed by a Central Planner.
Over the weekend, we discovered two types of Astroturfing:
Donald Trump Astroturfing: A letter published in multiple places from one person claiming to live in multiple cities
Ellie Light was the quintessential Donald Trump Astroturfer. In fact, her real estate holdings would put Trump to shame. She published the very same pro-Obama letter in 65 publications — including 31 states, and the District of Columbia. It also appeared in 3 national publications and a Yahoo link — and in 2 foreign publications, including a publication in Bangkok, Thailand.
And she claimed to live in almost all of these locations. Because that claim enhanced her ability to place her letters. So she claimed to live in Philadelphia, PA; and Daly City, California; and Mansfield, Ohio; and Waynesboro, Virginia; and Algoma, Wisconsin; and Bangor, Maine — and dozens of other places.
Who said Obama supporters were all downtrodden?
Mark Spivey appeared in several places as well. And Ellie Light and Mark Spivey claimed residence in almost every publication to which they sent their letters.
Not even Donald Trump can claim such extensive real estate holdings!
The conclusion is simple: Ellie Light and Mark Spivey are liars. They pretend to be from multiple places to enhance their credibility. In fact, they are from one location — and they are trying to pretend they are individuals from all over America.
But they aren’t. And that leads us to Category #2:
David Axelrod Astroturfing: Identical letters published in multiple places claiming to be from different people
You get suspicious when you see the same letter appearing in multiple locations with multiple names.
In this post, I documented the same letter being written by Janet Leigh and Earnest Gardner. And another letter written by Gloria Elle — and Jan Chen. And another written by Jen Park — and Lars Deerman. And another written by Jen Park — and John F. Stott.
And identical paragraphs from another letter were written by Gordon Adams of Danbury, Connecticut. And Joe Rodriguez of La Porte, TX. And Robert Stephenson of Austin. And Ron Avila of San Francisco, CA; Mary Acosta of Baldwin Park, CA; Nancy Speed of Tulsa, OK; Sheila Price of Valencia, CA; Clarence Ndangam of Clarks Summit, PA; Vernetta Mason in the Suffolk News-Herald; Greg Mitchell of Fort Mitchell, Ohio; Ermelinda Giurato of Elk Grove Village, Illinois; J. Scott Piper of Cape Coral, Florida; Robert Vander Molen of Camdenton, Missouri; and Terri Reese of Vista, CA.
This latter group appeared to be copying a letter they saw on the Web site of the Democrat party. But that doesn’t explain all of the similar letters.
One of two things could be happening.
Maybe there’s a P.R. firm behind it all.
Or maybe there’s a centralized entity (like Organizing for America or the Democrat Party) which says: Hey, guys! It would really rock if you all sent a letter to your local newspaper that read something (or, hell, EXACTLY) like this. And then they give you the text to send on to your local paper — of course, using your real name and location.
There appears to have been a lot of this as well. And readers of those Letters to the Editor were fooled.
While the participants were undoubtedly well-meaning, the effect is simple. A Centralized Body determines a message. Minions repeat it. And readers are tricked into thinking that the message is individualized.
So now that you’ve seen the evidence, what should you do?
Simple. Don’t take anything at face value. Look at pro-Obama letters in your own local paper and search phrases on Google to see if they are examples of Astroturf.
Then report back here with the results. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s our duty to get to the bottom of this.
Because Big Media never will.
It’s up to us.
UPDATE: Ellie Light left a comment at Amy Kane’s blog with a long justification of why she did it — but no explanation of why she lied about her addresses. The IP address of that comment: 18.104.22.168, which appears to come back to Huntington Beach, CA.
UPDATE x2: Joy McCann also received a comment from Light, and e-mails to say that IP address is the same as the comment left at Kane’s blog. The comment was also left early this morning, so there’s no guarantee that’s a static IP address. It would help to have the IP address on comments she left in other places on other days.
For what it’s worth, nobody using that IP address has ever left a comment at my blog. If you have a blog, you might check your past comments for that IP address. And if she comments anywhere else, please pass along the IP address.
UPDATE x3: It bears repeating that, as I noted in a previous post, a series of letters published in newspapers recently has been traced to the web site for the Democrat Party. And Barack Obama’s Organizing for America has been in on the act, too. More on that here.