William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Astroturfing Explosion: Who Did It?

Somebody—or some bodies—have been planting pro-Obama stories at newspapers all over the world.

The pen names of that body are Ellie Light, Mark Spivey, Gloria Elle, and Jan Chen. That is, these are the names known so far.

The blog Patterico’s Pontifications has the most updated list.

Letters with identical wording have been planted at least 60 (discovered so far, but the count is growing by the hour) newspapers both in the United States and overseas. In all cases, the names accompanying the letters are said to be local.

The only question is: who? Who is doing it? Is it ACORN? David Axelrod? One progressively crazed individual like tenured terrorist Bill Ayers? Or a host of the hot and permanently bothered?

There are so many letters in so many places that it’s difficult to believe just one person could have been the perpetrator. Still, political mania has driven people to do crazier things.

Actually, there’s another question: are these faux-letters being placed solely by wily workers or are sympathetic main-stream media editors in on the scam? A combination is also plausible.

Will the ‘turfed newspaper editors admit to being flimflammed? Or will they own up to placing the letters “for the higher good”?

And, even stronger, will the MSM cover this? If they do, they tacitly admit to their incompetence. If they do not, they tacitly admit to their complicity.

Either way, this has all the makings of a delicious scandal.

Update See Riehl World for speculation on the who. Classical Values has a spoof picture of Ellie Light.

Update 26 Jan. Patterico finds one newspaper editor who gives evidence he was duped by “Ellie Light.”

11 Comments

  1. Matt said:

    “Actually, there’s another question: [1] are these faux-letters being placed solely by wily workers or [2] are sympathetic main-stream media editors in on the scam? A combination is also plausible. [3] Will the ‘turfed newspaper editors admit to being flimflammed? [4] Or will they own up to placing the letters “for the higher good”?

    [1] No; [2] Yes; [3] No; [4] No; Nor will the Minimal Stream Media cover this issue.

  2. Death to robots!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Absolutely amazing. And amazingly stupid. Although somebody is trying it on here too.

    Anyway do you think I have chance of meeting these delightful ladies: even if it only on facebook?

    Nope? didn’t think so.

    Bloody statisticians: the answers always no. Not a chance.

    Kindest Regards

  4. Who’s planting the propaganda doesn’t really matter when it comes to the narcissist-in-chief.

    It’s all about him.

  5. Astroturfing! I learned a new term today. It seems easy to do. Copy, paste and submit, preferably with a female name. I object very strongly to the use of a popular Asian female name. Hmm… freedom of the press does mean making up things freely.

  6. Actually, I think someone in the MSM will cover it: Glenn Beck. Wait for him to wail and gnash his teeth and announce the coming of robo-lords. Many tears will be shed.

    And the NYT might have an article on page 27 of the Lifestyle section or something.

    Otherwise, I don’t really imagine this will make much noise simply because media only cares about astroturfing from corporations. They largely ignore all the GOP astroturfing as well. Pity, because it’s all crap to me.

  7. Briggs

    January 25, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Ari,

    Robo Lords can be frightening.

  8. Oh, I don’t necessarily disagree that our future robotic overlords are frightening, but I’m not sure that they’re behind this. This is too sloppy for them.

  9. Regarding the MSM…

    Notice the number of serious MSM commentators who claim, ala Rachel Maddow, the following:

    The good liberals of Massachusetts were so impatient for Obama-care, and so frustrated at the lack of progress that they voted… Republican! The lesson for democrats being that they absolutely, positively must pass health care immediately. The lesson for republicans is that they better start working with the democrats.

    … or more republicans might be elected.

    Sanity has left the building.

    (was this slightly off-topic? Just seems somehow related.)

  10. http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/01/15/sunstein/index.html

    Obama’s head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs wrote a paper advocating “Because those who hold conspiracy theories typically suffer from a crippled epistemology, in accordance with which it is rational to hold such theories, the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups,” in 2008.

    It’s not exactly a stretch to imagine they’ve jumped from countering conspiracy theories to supporting their political agenda.

    The paper is at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1084585

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