OWS: Real Grassroots vs. Astroturf

Astroturf vs. GrassrootsThe "Occupy Wall Street" movement is providing a real-time case study of the difference between a true grassroots movement and a corporate-backed astroturf movement.

Americans in recent years have been besieged by industry-funded astroturf efforts masquerading as real grassroots movements. One example is the "Hands off my Healthcare" national roadshow, which was backed by the Koch-funded group, Americans for Prosperity. Another is the Tea Party, which got a corporate-sponsored media boost from the Fox News Channel and benefitted from the the efforts of a Sacramento, California-based Republican PR firm, Russo Marsh & Rogers. Astroturf uses manufactured spin and messaging that requires real money for things like media buys, front groups, mass-broadcast faxes, telemarketing-generated petitions, glossy postcards, form letters and talk radio-inspired phone calls.

Here are a 10 elements that indicate OWS is a genuine grassroots movement:

1) No bus. Phony, corporate-backed "social movements" these days often sport a custom-painted, decked-out motorcoach that travels the country making scheduled appearances at parks and town halls, and urging people to join the "movement."

2) OWS's message benefits a wide segment of the U.S. population. OWS supporters' actions do not conspicuously benefit a certain single industry, group of companies or political candidate. OWS advocates for a broad section of the population, namely the 99 percent of U.S. citizens who are having an increasingly difficult time with the economy and getting their needs represented in Washington.

3) No focus-grouped talking points. Astroturf messages are boiled down to a tight, limited set of talking points or a professionally-designed motivating slogan, like "Hands off my health care!" or "Global Warming Alarmism: Lost Jobs, Higher Taxes, Less Freedom!" -- the slogan Americans for Prosperity used in its national Hot Air Tour, which opposed efforts to educate the public about global warming. OWS's core message protesting an economy rigged for the 1% is broad and diffuse and has been criticized as such by some parties.

4) No coordinated, glitzy national media roll-out or tour. (See #1 -- no bus.)

5) No PR operatives are organizing OWS activities.

Hands off bus6) OWS protesters do not spend time insisting to journalists that the movement is "independent," and its spokespeople are "esteemed" or "credible." In fact, one problem that law enforcement agencies across the country have cited repeatedly is that the OWS movement lacks spokespeople.

7) No backing from a "non-profit" group that refuses to disclose its donors.

8) OWS does not use telephone banks, computer databases, robocalls or hired organizers to gain participants.

9) OWS does not have a webpage featuring IStockPhoto pictures of pleasant-looking, multi-ethnic groups of people smiling at viewers.

10) Significant numbers of non-violent OWS protesters have gotten pepper-sprayed. Astroturf participants are usually not dedicated or passionate enough that they would risk or tolerate getting pepper-sprayed for their cause.

There are doubtless many other factors that distinguish OWS as being a true, grassroots movement. If you think of more, please let us know in the comment section, below this article.


If special interest corporations are as powerful as we have been led to believe; is there any reason to doubt they designed and paid for the Federal Campaign Reform Act and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act: Free Speech Needs Jerry Maguire By Ryan Sager Published 03/18/2005 - http://amendment10.tripod.com/jerrymaguire.htm Excerpt: That's because campaign-finance reform is not a "movement" as its proponents have claimed, it is a lobby -- funded and orchestrated by eight very liberal foundations which fooled Congress and the American people into believing that the front groups they set up were grassroots organizations. Senator McConnell Smelled the Pew in 2001 Senator McConnell exposed the charitable trusts behind BCRA in the Congressional Record of Arpil 2, 2001. The following is excerpted from three pages of the Congressional Record, Proceedings and Debates of the 107th Congress, First Session, Washington, Monday, April 2, 2001, Vol. 147, No. 46: http://amendment10.tripod.com/mcpew.htm BIPARTISAN CAMPAIGN REFORM ACT OF 2001— Resumed The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Kentucky. Mr. MCCONNELL. Who wins? As I said the other day, who wins are people such as Jerome Kohlberg. This is the billionaire who has decided this is going to be his legacy. This is the full page ad he ran in the Washington Post the other day on behalf of this legislation. I suspect a lot of the lobbyists out in the hall right off the Senate floor are either on his payroll directly or indirectly. People such as Jerome Kohlberg and the big charitable foundations are underwriting the reform movement, hand in hand with the editorial pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times, which have editorialized on this subject an average of once every 6 days over the last 27 months. At least in the Senate, they are going to get their way shortly, but this new world won’t take a penny out of politics, not a penny. It will all be spent. It just won’t be spent by the parties. It will be spent by the Jerome Kohlbergs of the world and all of the interest groups out there. As everyone knows, the restrictions on those interest groups will be struck down in court, if we get that far. Welcome to the brave new world where the voices of parties are quieted, the voices of billionaires are enhanced, the voices of newspapers are enhanced, and the one entity out there in America, the core of the two-party system, that influence is dramatically reduced. I strongly urge our colleagues to vote against this legislation. It clearly moves in the wrong direction.

Your point is unclear. There's a huge difference between charitable organizations working to improve life for the 99% versus mega-corporations working solely for profits... to the detriment of the 99%.

His point was plenty clear, though you yourself fail to list any examples of charities that benefit the so-called 99%, leading me to believe you're REALLY referring to Leftist special interest groups which promote propaganda ranging from anti-science to the glorification of collectivism. In addition, of course, to making sizable donations to Left Wing politicians.

I find your conclusion that the TEA Party is astroturf down right offensive. You clearly have never been to any local TEA Party meeting and are apparently basing your opinion on one TP group (The Tea Party Express) the only TP Group with a bus that I am aware of out Hundreds of groups. I for one am a member & of two local TP groups and I know for a fact that neither group has ever received any corporate money. I have personally met the founders of 6 TP groups and often attend other groups meetings. I have yet to see all the corporate influence you talk about. You talk as if any organization that receives corporate money is evil. Corporations are run by humans and everybody has their own ideological beliefs and are going to support those that best represents those beliefs. If money was donated prior to the creation of a group I would agree with you that that is not a grass roots movement. I have to ask the question Who's paying for the food & bailing the OWS out of Jail? In Virginia the TP has sued the city Richmond for being charged $10K for permits to hold three rallies for a few hours yet the OWS were charged $0 for weeks camping out in the same location the TP was charged for. You say: "6) OWS protesters do not spend time insisting to journalists that the movement is "independent," That's because unlike the TP they are NOT constantly being accused of being bought and paid for by the Liberal Media. You say: "3) No focus-grouped talking points. Astroturf messages are boiled down to a tight, limited set of talking points or a professionally-designed motivating slogan" Most all companies and groups have a slogan or catch phrase. ie. "your in good Hands" Virtually every TP group agrees on 5 issues: 1. Constitutional compliance 2. Smaller federal government 3. States’ rights 4. Lower spending and taxes 5. Individual rights, responsibility, and integrity You say: 10) Significant numbers of non-violent OWS protesters have gotten pepper-sprayed. Astroturf participants are usually not dedicated or passionate enough that they would risk or tolerate getting pepper-sprayed for their cause. This statement is really a joke! Hundreds of OWS protesters have been arrested, almost 1000 in New York alone. Hundreds of TP rallies with hundreds of thousands of protesters & zero arrest. You get arrested when there is violence,rape, murder, property damage and violation of the law. But amazingly you call these people dedicated & passionate. Again WHO'S paying their bail & fines? I have attended many TP Rallies & Talked to hundreds of people at the rallies & in TP groups and I have only met a few that ever did anything like this. Most have never been involved in politics including me. That's Real Grass Roots!

Half of this list is pathetic straw-grasping (OOooO! No Bus! That totally negates the huge sums of money traced back to Big Labor, SEIU and NYCC!) and the other half is outright lying (OWS HAS been insisting to everyone in earshot that they are "independent" despite pushing a collectivist-totalitarian wishlist that would only benefit Government Overlords. Hell YOU'RE trying to insist their independence right here and now!). In short, exactly the misinformation one would expect from the propagandameisters of an organization with it's own storied history of faux-grassrootedness. How are your bed-buddies at PETA, by the way?

...mostly consists of the 99 percent just wanting democratic input into the policies that govern their lives, rather than having them imposed by an increasingly exclusionary and insular corporate elite. By branding that as "collectivist and totalitarian" you seem to be throwing in your lot with the Romanovs. Good luck with that.

OWS = PAID PROTESTORS TP = Regular citizens attending a rally, many for the 1st time in their lives (because they're too busy WORKING to camp out for weeks). Now who is the astroturf?? This article is another dose of outright lies from the left (do you expect anything else from lefties?)

If you actually believe the OWS protestors across the country are paid, then first you should really turn off FOX "news" or whatever propaganda machine fed that line of bull to you and then you might want to speak with OWS protestors themselves and you will realize how much FOX & company have lied to you. Many OWS protestors are "regular citizens attending a rally, many for the 1st time in their lives" many of whom are "busy WORKING" too but some of them have lost their jobs due to the de-regulation and free trade binges that shipped American jobs overseas or that helped crash our economy. Those policies are part of the long-term ideological agenda of the Kochs. What you won't see at OWS events are the expensive Americans for Prosperity bus tours and hotel reservations and paid right-wing speakers and pre-packaged Koch-funded talking points, like we have documented at TP events. With all due respect, sir or madam, if you believe the comment you wrote and I believe you are sincere, then you have been seriously misled by the right-wing echo chamber.

Lisa is still, obviously (or obliviously), believing the LLM (Lying Liberal Media). http://dailycaller.com/2012/03/28/caught-on-camera-seiu-activists-discuss-20-payment-for-obamacare-protest-video/#ooid=traWthNDoWPJmNWo9PZ5yd3HPjbk0OD

Over the past year, hundreds of thousands of Americans have stood up in protest to policies that have favored Wall Street over Main Street, and yet some persist in believing the absurd suggestion that all these fellow citizens in Wisconsin and at OWS events across the country were paid to protest. As for the video posted by the Caller's disinformation team, why didn't the videographer ask the people who traveled by bus from other cities to take part in an assembly at the Supreme Court about health care reform if the twenty bucks was for lunch?