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Fox News leads media blackout of Operation American Spring

I ran a Google query to find out what Fox News Channel is saying about Operation American Spring. They aren’t saying anything–the only hits were from Fox Radio’s token liberal, Alan Colmes.

I will admit that sometimes Fox News makes editorial decisions based on its Republican bias, but in the case of Operation American Spring, I think that the lack of coverage at Fox (and CNN and MSNBC and the hometown Washington Post) is not a matter of editorial bias, but that it’s just not a real story. I even checked the US Capitol Police web site, and there’s nothing there about OAS.

It’s always useful to keep in mind the difference between real law enforcement, real lawyers, real forensic document examiners and real journalists—compared to citizen bloggers like me.1 I expect that real journalists have made some calls to people in the know to find out whether there is anything to “Operation American Spring” beyond some web sites and social media. The fact that there’s no media coverage probably means that they have found that there’s no national mobilization and that there is going to be no event of note. If even 10,000 protesters were coming, not to mention the 10 million fantasy league fans, it would be big news.

Dog bites man v. Man bites dog

I understand that there is somebody in front of the White House protesting something every day, so that in and of itself protest is not news. In order to be news, something special is required, such as the presence of a celebrity, like actress Maria Conchita Alonzo.

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Organizers

One cannot argue with the fact that Obama supporters can organize. They make phone calls, they knock on doors, they raise big money, and they motivate people. I get the impression that the right-wing types behind Operation American Spring are more in line with the movie cliché, “if you build it, they will come.” Reports on OAS web sites say that they haven’t even applied for demonstration permits (required for groups of 20 or more).2 They say that the 10,000,000 people coming will not be in groups that large—sounds to me like a lame excuse for a lack of organization.

Of course, the Operation American Spring folks aren’t building anything, but rather are trying to tear something down, something that for all it’s failings, is much beloved by my country folk: the Constitution, the ballot and the rule of law. Most Americans don’t want to be Egypt.


1It’s also worth noting the difference between real community organizers and keyboard astroturfers.

2Here, by the way, are the areas where demonstrations are permitted.

Engineered crisis

I have suspected almost from the beginning that the “birther controversy” is an engineered crisis, a political smear fueled and fanned by professionals, with an army of dupes to carry the message. We’ve seen efforts to create fake grass roots movements already and the phenomenon even has a name, “astroturfing.” Joseph Farah or WorldNetDaily probably deserves much of the credit, saying himself that “we created it.”

Political misinformation campaigns and dirty tricks go back to the founding of our country; however, there is a basic sea change with sophisticated computer software and the Internet. The automation of dirty tricks is a matter of great concern to me.

The latest technique that has surfaced is “persona management,” software that can maintain multiple online identities (complete with IP addresses, email addresses and accounts on social networks), undetectable by sophisticated analysis, allowing a single software operator to appear as many people in online forums. A few agents can look for all intents and purposes like a movement. Today, this type of sophisticated manipulation is on the domain of large corporations, but perhaps it is being used by political operatives as well.

The Daily KOS has written about this, and I highly recommend their article, UPDATED: the HB Gary Email That Should Concern Us All.

Thanks to Sef for the tip.

Vocabulary word of the day: “astroturfing”

From the Wikipedia:

Astroturfing in American English is a neologism for formal public relations campaigns in politics and advertising which seek to create the impression of being spontaneous “grassroots” behavior, hence the reference to the artificial grass, AstroTurf.

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 an individual pushing a personal agenda or highly organized professional groups with financial backing from large corporations, non-profits, or activist organizations. Continue Reading →