In his recently released documentary, [astro] Turf Wars, Australian filmmaker Taki Oldham goes undercover to try and answer the question: “Just how real are the roots of the tea party’s supposed grassroots uprising.”
Oldham, examines the role corporate-funded grassroots groups (known as ‘astroturf’) have played in the recent health-care and climate debates and their central role in the tea party movement.
Here’s the very amusing trailer:
The film singles out free-market ‘grassroots’ groups FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity (AFP), whose million-plus memberships helped create the Tea Party movement and led the uprising against the Democrats reform agenda.
While AFP have been getting a lot of press lately for their ties to billionaire oil man David Koch, (Astro) Turf Wars take this to a whole new level. Of particular note are the revelations that in a previous incarnation both AFP and FreedomWorks were paid by tobacco companies to kill the Clinton healthcare reforms in 1994, mobilizing their grassroots army to fight a ‘government takeover’ and ‘socialized medicine.’
Oldham’s undercover work documents how Tea Party goers are being recruited into this libertarian fight for ‘freedom’ seemingly without any understanding of who is bankrolling the campaign.
Another notable appearance is by Huffington contributor Wendell Potter, a former head of PR for the health insurance providers Cigna and Humana who blows the whistle on the health insurance industry’s use of astroturfing to fool and manipulate citizens.
The 90 minute film, which is available online at astrotufwars.com, comes at opportune moment for President Obama and the Democratic Party who are being drowned in a flood of corporate money to special interest groups like AFP, who according to the Associated Press have already spent $5.5m on attack ads against Democrat candidates - that’s a lot of moolah for a supposedly “grassroots” group.