Astroturfing. What a concept. It used to mean that green plastic stuff that people put in place of lawns in the 60’s. But now? It refers to a disturbing trend in the web. It’s how you target market the American Presidency to a foolish proletariat who doesn’t know any better isn’t it?
And, thanks to the web, and things like the bubble sort, it’s pretty easy for a guy like Axelrod to work up a whole bunch of support subliminally, huh?
Turns out, Axelrod is a specialist at this sort of thing. He owns a company called ASK and you can read about it in this great article from Business Week called “The Secret Side of David Axelrod: The master of “Astroturfing” has a second firm that shapes public opinion for corporations.”
It’s a pretty troubling article, really. Really troubling, because ASK did something with an ad campaign for ComEd (part of the Exelon company that Obama has been involved with). Funny, the ethics of what happened need further review by a lot of people. And, for a candidate like Obama who is trying to make such a squeaky-clean image for himself, a person just has to wonder why he’d even hire this guy Axelrod, especially after reading something like this:
“…ASK’s relationship with ComEd goes back much further: The Chicago-based utility says ASK has been an adviser since at least 2002. ASK’s workload picked up in 2005, as the Exelon subsidiary was nearing the end of a 10-year rate freeze and preparing to ask state regulators for higher electricity prices. Based on ASK’s advice, ComEd formed Consumers Organized for Reliable Electricity (CORE) to win support.
One TV commercial, penned by ASK, warned of a ComEd bankruptcy and blackouts without a rate hike: “A few years ago, California politicians seized control of electric rates. They held rates down, but the true cost of energy kept rising. Soon the electric company went bust; the lights went out. Consumers had to pay for the mess. Now, some people in Illinois are playing the same game.” CORE, which describes itself on its Web site as “a coalition of individuals, businesses and organizations,” was identified as the ad’s sponsor. After a complaint was filed with state regulators, ComEd acknowledged that it had bankrolled the entire $15 million effort.
The message seemed effective. Pollster Geoff Garin, president of Peter D. Hart Research Associates in Washington, which has worked with both of Axelrod’s businesses, says his research showed that after the advertising campaign, ComEd customers were more supportive of a rate hike than customers served by other electric utilities elsewhere in Illinois…”
Something about that kind of an ad campaign is fishy, huh? Really fishy.
Maybe that’s why Sourcewatch.org is keeping an eye on Axelrod. They’re a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, here:
You know, the whole purpose of advertising is to sell a product. Are you supposed to pick your President because he has been advertised to you a certain way, or not?
Hmmm…that’s where the “Astroturfing” comes in. Let’s take a deeper look at that concept. Much Deeper. Because, we aren’t talking about that plastic green grass anymore. No, we’re talking about something else entirely. That’s where ETHICS come in.
“Astroturfing in American English is a neologism for formal public relations campaigns in politicsadvertising that seek to create the impression of being spontaneous, grassroots behavior, hence the reference to the artificial grass AstroTurf. and
The goal of such a campaign is to disguise the efforts of a political or commercial entity as an independent public reaction to some political entity—a politician, political group, product, service or 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 one’s own personal agenda through to highly organized professional groups with financial backing from large corporations, non-profits, or activist organizations….”
How interesting. That was straight from the Wikipedia. Hmmm…well, what does “astroturfing” have to do with that ComEd ad Axelrod’s company pulled off? And what does “astroturfing” have to do with what he might be pulling off for Obama right this very minute?
Check this out! Over at Neural Gourmet! They’ve already asked if Obama’s campaign has been “Astroturfing” can you believe it? I can. With that ad they did of Hillary Clinton as “big sister” — you can see the proof right here, and it just makes Obama look even worse to the Democratic Party than he already does, doesn’t it? Really bad.
He just co-opts whatever he needs doesn’t he? Like speeches, ads, you know. That’s his little trick, because when a person is using subliminals in a deeply deliberate way, you aren’t quite sure where you saw something before or heard something before are you? Unless somebody can remind you!
Trace back this ad, and you have shades of George Orwell’s book “1984.”
And an ad for “Apple” Computers! Well guess what? That got co-opted, just like all the other stuff. How slimey! How low can a person go? Well, guess who made this ad for Obama? Blue State Digital. That same company who was supposed to be doing “Party Builder” — to build up the Democratic Party. According to Neural Gourmet –
These revelations have cast a dark cloud over the Obama camp amidst speculation that the Obama campaign is directly responsible for the video. Yet the Obama campaign and de Vellis himself assert that de Vellis was acting on his own. de Vellis believes the Clinton campaign to be somehow disingenuous:
“The specific point of the ad was that Obama represents a new kind of politics, and that Senator Clinton’s ‘conversation’ is disingenuous,” he wrote. “And the underlying point was that the old political machine no longer holds all the power.”
Very ugly. Isn’t it?
But there’s more coming— in Obama’s Astroturf part two……..stay tuned.
You know what would be really cool? If that guy from Democracy21.org, Fred Wertheimer got involved, wouldn’t it? In the meantime though — it seems like John McCain and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns can.
Astroturf. It just doesn’t work for Green Democrats, now does it?