About the 60 Minutes: Appeal for Redress

Annie

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Some serious money here. Lots of links and more at the site:

http://www.mudvillegazette.com/archives/007574.html

February 25, 2007
Appeal for Redress: Astroturfing
Greyhawk

This post originally appeared at MilBlogs in October, 2006. While some of the information uncovered herein has since made it's way into smaller media outlets, most major mainstream media sources are still reporting this effort as a "grass roots" campaign. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Astroturfing (via wikipedia):

In politics and advertising, the term astroturfing describes formal public relations (PR) campaigns which seek to create the impression of being a spontaneous, grassroots behavior. Hence the reference to the "AstroTurf" (artificial grass) is a metaphor to indicate "fake grassroots" support.

The goal of such campaign is to disguise the agenda of a political client as an independent public reaction to some political entity —a politician, political group, product, service, event. Astroturfers attempt to orchestrate the actions of apparently diverse and geographically distributed individuals, by both overt ("outreach," "awareness," etc.) and covert (disinformation) means. Astroturfing may be undertaken by anything from an individual pushing their own personal agenda through to highly organised professional groups with financial backing from large corporations.

And that's what's occurring with the "Appeal for Redress" web site.

The missing piece of the puzzle was actually available from the start:

Yesterday, a company that does public relations for the liberal activist political action committee MoveOn.org, Fenton Communications, organized a conference call for reporters and three active-duty soldiers to unveil the soldiers' anti-war group Appeal for Redress.
<...>
A staff member at Fenton Communications who requested anonymity said his company was approached last week by a longtime peace activist and former director of the anti-nuclear proliferation front known as SANE/Freeze, David Cortright, to publicize Appeal for Redress. Mr. Cortright is now president of an Indiana-based nonprofit group, the Fourth Freedom Forum, and his biography on the organization's Web site says he helped raise "more than $300,000 for the Win Without War coalition to avert a preemptive attack on Iraq in 2002–03."
That's from the October 26 New York Sun - kudos to the only reporters in the crowd who had the guts to tell the truth about this. As of this writing, over 200 newspapers have carried the story; The Boston Globe, al-Jazeera, The Washington Post, ABC News, Reuters, The (UK) Guardian... but none of the stories acknowledge the orchestration of the event by Fenton Communications. Instead, virtually all of them detail the "grass roots" effort of the troops. Even without the Sun story, the mere fact that this appeared simultaneously in multiple "big media" outlets is evidence enough of such a campaign. In the pre-internet days this wouldn't be so obvious, but in these days of instant global communication the life cycle of such a story should hardly exceed 24 hours (and wouldn't have in the past without active media participation). But if you're among the few tech savvy and information hungry people interested in not taking such slickly-packaged information at face value, here are the facts about "Appeal for Redress" in order of discovery here.

The site is registered to J.E. Glick, of 803 North Main Street, Goshen, Indiana. A quick check of online white pages reveals that's the address of The Fourth Freedom Forum. (You can also read about the group here). This would seem to confirm the point in the Sun story quoted above:

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