From Media Matters:
Talk to any political organizer and they’ll tell you the hardest part about pulling off a successful protest rally is building a big enough crowd for the press to show up and cover the festivities. As tax day approaches, conservatives planning anti-Obama “tea party” demonstrations across the country have found a way around this once-daunting organizer’s dilemma: Fox News.
Organizers of these tea-party protests have no bigger cheerleader (or crowd-builder, for that matter) than Fox News, which has provided attendance and organizing information for the events on air and online dozens of times. You name it, they’ve likely done it.
[…] Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Neil Cavuto, and Greta Van Susteren are all scheduled to broadcast live from tea parties in different cities across the country, and they’ve wasted little time in diligently working to boost attendance levels for the April 15 events.
For his part, Beck, Fox’s conspiracy-theorist-in-chief, managed to escape his “doom room” — Beck’s words — where he regularly hosts survivalist fringe characters prophesying our impending demise as a nation, long enough to encourage his viewers to come “[c]elebrate with Fox News” at any of four “FNC Tax Day Tea Parties.”
In all seriousness, it’s one thing for a news outlet to cover a political protest — that’s pretty logical. It’s quite another for a news outlet to repeatedly encourage its viewers to attend a political protest. Far from practicing legitimate journalism, it’s blatantly and unabashedly political.
Beck isn’t just helping with turnout. Discussing his participation in the upcoming protest at the Alamo in San Antonio on his syndicated radio program, Beck announced, “I’m going to do a fundraiser for them” to help defray costs.
Taking all of this into consideration, it’s logical for people to be upset over the horrible state of affairs at Fox these days. Some might even be inclined to blame Beck, Hannity, and the rest of their right-wing broadcasting colleagues, but they should resist such temptation. You see, it really isn’t their fault at all.
They are simply fulfilling the charge of their boss, Fox News senior vice president Bill Shine, who, in an interview last month with National Public Radio, described the conservative cable network as “the voice of opposition on some issues.” Indeed.
At least someone’s finally being honest at Fox. Now, if that’s not a reason to party, I don’t know what is.
From The Atlantic:
Here is the organizational landscape of the April 15 tea party movement, in a nutshell: three national-level conservative groups, all with slightly different agendas, are guiding it. All are quick to tell you that the movement is a bottom-up affair and that its grassroots cred is real.
They are: FreedomWorks, the conservative action group led by Dick Armey; dontGO, a tech savvy free-market action group that sprung out of last August’s oil-drilling debate in the House of Representatives; and Americans for Prosperity, an issue advocacy/activist group based on free market principles. Conservative bloggers, talk show hosts, and other media figures have attached themselves to the movement in peripheral capacities.
All three groups vehemently deny that the movement is a product of AstroTurfing–fake grassroots activism organized from the top down–as some on the left have claimed. They will tell you that citizens-turned-activists, upset with President Obama’s economic agenda and the financial bailout, have been calling them, asking for help and how they can organize protests on Wednesday.
The movement is not tied to the Republican Party, group spokesmen said, despite a report that at least 10 House Republicans will be speaking at events across the country. Eric Odom, founder of dontGO, has infamously turned down a request from Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to speak at the group’s Chicago event.
Spokesmen for all three groups said they are not aware of any contact (other than the Steele incident) between their groups and federal-level Republican politicians, at the national level at least; Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), however, will speak at an Americans for Prosperity-organized event in Wisconsin, a spokesman for that group said.
The three groups each want something different out of the protests.
FreedomWorks spokesman Adam Brandon sees them as an opportunity for the right to catch up to the left in terms of grassroots activity, incorporating the activist-network model used most effectively by MoveOn.org.
FreedomWorks will place volunteers at some of the events to collect e-mail addresses and try to grow the group’s network of activists. In the same way the Iraq war helped liberals recruit new activists, Brandon hopes Obama’s economic agenda will fill conservative e-mail lists and coffers with new support.
dontGO founder Odom, on the other hand, does not see a parallel between his group and liberal ones like MoveOn. His vision for the movement is much more libertarian and revolutionary.
“Their agenda was to get these individuals elected. Our agenda is to declare war on incumbency and long term power,” Odom told me.
Hence the rejection of Steele’s request. The goal is “not to promote Republicans at all,” Odom said. “I voted for Bob Barr.”
Americans for Prosperity says it mostly wants to call attention to Obama’s economic policies; ostensibly, at least, it does not have broader designs for the conservative movement or the size of its own e-mail list.
All three groups acknowledge that the reported energy behind the tea party movement doesn’t have a particularly narrow focus. They’re protesting the stimulus, the budget, the financial bailout (signed by President Bush), and more, they say. They also acknowledge that some will show up not out of economic rage, but out of pure opposition to Obama.
The primary figures organizing the protests, the lobbyist-run think tank Freedom Works and bloggers such as Michelle Malkin, say they are reacting to taxes that are “too high.” However, previous tea party protests have attracted protesters who called for impeaching Obama while slurring the President’s name as “Obama Bin Lyin.”
Congressional Republicans have enthusiastically embraced the movement, with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) sponsoring a bill to honor the protests.
These are some of the Rethugs who will be speaking at the events: Former Rep. David Davis (R-TN), representatives from Sen. Bob Corker’s (R-TN) office, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) , Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), a representative from Rep. Sam Graves’ (R-MO) office, Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) , former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC).
In addition, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), and Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) have been urging their constituents to attend tea party protests.
The events are also being embraced by a smorgasbord of far-right causes. Gun rights militias, secessionists, and neo-Nazi groups are currently working to contribute to the organizing effort.
Yesterday, Think Progress reported on Republican lawmakers planning to speak at anti-Obama “tea party” protests taking place nationwide on April 15. Last night, Eric Odom of the DontGo website — one of the organizers of the protests — wrote a blog post stressing that these protests are displays of “regular American[s] in protest of government spending and extreme taxation,” rather than something affiliated with a political party or special interest agenda.
Despite these attempts to make the “movement” appear organic, the principle organizers of the local events are actually the lobbyist-run think tanks Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works.
This type of corporate ‘astroturfing‘ is nothing new to either organization. While working to promote Social Security privatization, Freedom Works was caught planting one of its operatives as a “single mom” to ask questions to President Bush in a town hall on the subject. Last year, the Wall Street Journal exposed Freedom Works for similarly building “amateur-looking” websites to promote the lobbying interests of Dick Armey, the former Republican Majority Leader who now leads Freedom Works and is a lobbyist for the firm DLA Piper.
Americans for Prosperity is run by Tim Phillips, who was Ralph Reed’s former partner in the lobbying firm Century Strategies. The group is funded by Koch family foundations — a family whose wealth is derived from the oil industry. Indeed Americans for Prosperity has coordinated pro-drilling ‘grassroots‘ events around the country.
This afternoon, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, leader of the corporate-funded American Solutions for Winning the Futures (ASWF), blasted an e-mail to his supporters with a reminder to attend the protests, along with a “Toolkit” of talking points. Gingrich’s ASWF is funded by polluters and helped orchestrate the “Drill Here, Drill Now” campaign last summer. ASWF has been an official “partner” in the tea party effort since at least March.