Boots & Sabers

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1820, 15 Jul 18

Astroturfing the Supreme Court

This time they got sloppy. Usually they at least change a few words to make it more believable. It’s hard to blame the papers. How are they supposed to check that until the letters run elsewhere?

Judge Brett Kavanaugh is going into the Supreme Court confirmation process with a hail of rhetorical arrows zinging by him, including a phony letter-writing campaign aimed at unsuspecting American newspaper editors

At least 21 papers were duped last week, including big-market brands like the Dallas Morning News and The Washington Times. They ran identical letters over a four-day period, each signed by a different person.

The effort is an example of public-relations ‘astroturfing,’ a technique meant to simulate genuine grassroots support for an idea or cause.

The form letter is one small piece of the message minefield erupting around Kavanaugh as he prepares for a brutal confirmation process that will end with scant support from Democrats.


1820, 15 July 2018


  1. Jason

    There goes Average Joe’s main news source. He links to as many “letters to the editor” as he does to Facebook news posts.

  2. dad29

    Who could have guessed that the Left is composed of xerox-machine “thinkers”, and without their xerox, there is no thought?

    This is my *shocked!!!* face…..

  3. jjf

    Come on, Dad29. You know this happens on all sides.

  4. MjM

    Owen sez:  It’s hard to blame the papers.

    No, it is not.

    “Newspapers” require a name, phone number, and address to be included in letters.  In the very article you cite: “It’s standard practice for opinion page editors to call the writers of letters”.

    The fact that some these letters fraudulently used the name of someone who did not send it tells you that these papers just went ahead and printed them because the editors agree with the content of them.

  5. jjf


    A better reporter would’ve chased down the letter-signers and ask them where they got their form letter.  Or found the political marketing firm that put other people’s names on letters.

    “The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism’s Online Journalism Review reported that the Republican National Committee had the technique down a year earlier. 

    Using a website called ‘GOP Team Leader,’ the party offered ‘points’– redeemable for merchandise – when their letters were actually published.”

    A decade ago, Thad Nation Consulting pulled something similar in Wisconsin when ATT and the cable industry teamed up to remove city-level franchising of cable agreements.

    If you sent in the postcard from your Sunday paper that said “I want to watch the Packers!”, Nation printed out your name on its own piece of paper and put it in a binder and delivered the binders to legislators claiming you were a supporter for particular legislation.

    Anyone care to tell me if you think you have more Internet and TV choice from your land-based providers?  Did the new law bring more competition, better service, or lower prices?

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