astroturf

Wed, 2012-01-04 18:36Brendan DeMelle
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API’s New ‘Vote 4 Energy’ Ad Campaign Is Thinly Veiled Election Year Bullying

American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard today announced the oil and gas industry’s latest election-year scare campaign to threaten the demise of the U.S. economy unless Big Oil gets its every wish in Washington. This year the wish list includes approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, expanded offshore drilling on both coasts, opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and more federal lands in the West to drilling, and smaller buffer zones between drilling operations and drinking water supplies.

What if Washington doesn’t comply by delivering Keystone XL and the rest of the wish list? Gerard, the oil industry’s chief bully, threatens “huge political consequences” for Barack Obama. 

You can almost set your watch to this industry’s tired plays on this front. If it’s January of a presidential election year, it must be time for the oil industry to threaten Washington politicians to ensure they continue to do the industry’s bidding. The threats are delivered in the form of outlandishly expensive advertising campaigns and punditry tours, aided by a captive media that serves its role as stenographer for the industry’s inflated jobs figures and misleading claims.

The API campaign is nothing more than a fresh skin on a very old and stale argument – that President ______ (insert current name) needs to continue opening up more of the nation’s lands, particularly public lands, for oil and gas drilling, OR ELSE ______(insert latest political talking point), in this case “jobs jobs jobs” will be lost (a bogus argument)

CNN notes the close correlation between API’s target states and some of the hottest states in the 2012 U.S. elections – hint: they’re the same.

Tue, 2011-08-23 21:24Farron Cousins
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Justice Department Launches Investigation Into BP's Oil Gusher Cover Up

The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an official investigation to determine whether or not BP lied to the public and to the government about the amount of oil that was leaking from a broken pipe during last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. The leak was the result of the explosion and subsequent sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, owned by Transocean but operated by BP.

During the initial days of the oil leak, BP was constantly updating their estimates of how much oil was flowing out of the broken pipeline. In spite of their advanced camera, computer, and other data technologies, they were somehow never able to give an accurate, or even close to accurate, account of what was happening beneath the water’s surface. The Justice Department is hoping to find out whether the company was acting dishonestly, or if they actually couldn’t determine the flow rate despite all the data available to them.

Fri, 2011-08-05 11:32Farron Cousins
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Oil Industry Steps Up Astroturf Efforts For 2012 Election

The oil industry has put their astroturf and lobbying efforts into overdrive over the last few months, preparing for a bitter fight in the upcoming 2012 presidential election. In addition to their usual work of pushing for increased domestic oil production and the opening of federal lands for oil drilling, the industry is working around the clock to convince lawmakers to sign off on the Keystone XL Pipeline that would transport crude tar sand oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

ThinkProgress reporter Lee Fang has helped uncover some of the oil industry’s recent astroturf tactics at townhall meetings across the country. At a separate townhall event in Iowa, Republicans Rick Santorum and Herman Cain were asked questions by “activists” planted by the industry-funded group the Iowa Energy Forum.

Wed, 2011-03-30 00:31Emma Pullman
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Are Right Wingers Seriously Using Craigslist To Recruit Trolls For Canadian Election?

Today a campaign on behalf of a public relations firm to skew online debate about the Canadian election was caught using Craigslist to recruit new writers to their cause.

The series of job postings appeared in major cities across the country, and invited prospective writers to apply for jobs to post on newspaper comment sections, media forums, facebook pages, and other online outlets. The goal? To “help balance the left-wing bias of the major media outlets”.

Though the ads were promptly flagged and removed from Craigslist, we scored a screen cap

With Canada early on into an election campaign, one can only wonder on just what scale this type of organized astroturf online trolling exists.

Tue, 2011-03-22 21:39Brendan DeMelle
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PolluterWatch Memo to Koch PR Team: Ever Consider Making Your Astroturf A Little Less Obvious?

PolluterWatch is serving up a great tongue-in-cheek “memo to the Koch PR team” tonight, noting the obvious blunders from Koch Industries’ astroturfing and attack squad lately. The Kochtopus keeps revealing just how highly coordinated its media and blogger network is, mysteriously generating defensive and offensive pieces in quick succession at the drop of a billionaire’s hat.

If it weren’t so blatantly obvious in slinging the same mud and honey around the media Koch-o-sphere, perhaps Koch’s ever-ready defender squad might be worthy of compensation? Oh wait, New Media Strategies does get paid by Koch to blatantly and disastrously attempt to edit the Koch profile on Wikipedia. 

And even if Koch’s friends in media claim to rush to the company’s defense out of pure ideological zealotry and not for compensation, there are a few instances where that argument fails to impress.  As PolluterWatch points out, Koch’s PR team recently posted on the company’s Facebook page about a piece written by Steven Hayward that seemed to support Koch’s anti-science position on climate change and predictably tooted the old Climategate dud.

Tue, 2011-02-01 19:34Brendan DeMelle
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David Koch and Wife Julia Observe Real Grassroots From A Safe Distance

A photograph from the billionaires’ Kochtopus summit in Rancho Mirage this weekend shows a very concerned looking David and Julia Koch witnessing the 1000+ protestors gathered on the street for the “Uncloaking the Kochs” rally.  David and Julia peer down at the masses from their safe rooftop perch.

The Other 98% is running a caption contest for the photo on their Facebook page, and the photo made the rounds on Twitter earlier today as well.

David and Julia Koch

What photo caption ideas do you have? 

Tue, 2010-12-14 09:15Richard Littlemore
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Monbiot: The Astroturf Threat To Democracy

Guardian columnist George Monbiot steps out with a great analysis of internet-based astroturfing and the very effective way that it disrupts the public conversation about important (and economically momentous) issues.

Wed, 2010-10-27 17:24Emma Pullman
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Financial Post Op-Ed Spins Familiar Tale of Climate Change Denial

The recent op-ed piece in Canada’s Financial Post by Czech President Václav Klaus is more than a little infuriating.  Klaus, an economist by trade with no background in climate science, has become a favourite skeptic for hire at the Heritage Foundation and other right-wing libertarian think tanks. 

Klaus is a vocal skeptic on the topic of global warming. His 2007 book argues that global warming is akin to a new religion or ideology that threatens to undermine freedom and the world’s economic and social order.  At a 2007 speech at the Cato Institute, he argued that, “Environmentalism should belong in the social sciences” along with other “isms” such as communism, feminism, and liberalism.  He went on to argue that, “environmentalism is a religion” and a “modern counterpart of communism” that seeks to change people’s habits and economic systems.

At his 2009 keynote address at the International Conference of Climate Change (a.k.a. Denial-a-Palooza), he maintained that environmental activists don’t necessarily care about temperature, or carbon dioxide, rather they care about rent seeking and political profit.  In an increasingly familiar trope, he argued that the climate change movement has become popularized because it gives politicians an excuse to exert more control over society.

Klaus delivered a keynote speech at last week’s Global Warming Policy Foundation Inaugural Annual Lecture in London.  According to his address, “Global warming in the last 150 years was modest and future warming and its consequences will not be dangerous or catastrophic.  It doesn’t look like a threat we should respond to,” he said.

Wed, 2010-10-13 13:01Brendan DeMelle
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David Koch Has Direct Contact With Tea Party Astroturf Organizers At Americans For Prosperity Event

The billionaire Koch brothers have long claimed that they have no direct connection to the Tea Party, denying that their vast oil wealth is directly funding corporate front groups like Americans For Prosperity, the key organizers of the fake grassroots Tea Party movement. 

David Koch told New York magazine earlier this year, “I’ve never been to a tea-party event. No one representing the tea party has ever even approached me.” 

But the Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg reports today that footage has emerged showing David Koch at the podium during an Americans For Prosperity gala receiving direct and detailed reports from his astroturf AFP army on their efforts to organize tea parties around the nation.  

Watch the clip from the new documentary (Astro)Turf Wars: How Corporate America Faked a Grassroots Revolution:

  

Wed, 2010-07-14 16:03Brendan DeMelle
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American Petroleum Institute's Revisionist History on Climate Change Position

The American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for the oil and natural gas industry, is trying to re-write history by claiming that it has remained “neutral” about U.S. climate legislation.

Nothing could be further from the truth, actually.

API orchestrated the entire “Energy Citizens” astroturf campaign last year precisely to fight against climate legislation. Greenpeace USA obtained an internal memo[PDF] from the desk of API president Jack Gerard detailing polluting interests’ plans to launch the nationwide astroturf campaign attacking climate legislation as “tax increases on our industry.”

The API memo requested API’s member companies to recruit employees, retirees, vendors and contractors to attend the “Energy Citizen” rallies in key Congressional districts nationwide during the August recess last year, no doubt hoping to be confused with a genuine grassroots uprising, much like the tea parties.

In fact, the API memo confirms that it would be funding and staffing the whole highly-orchestrated campaign:

To be clear, API will provide the up-front resources to ensure logistical issues do not become a problem. This includes contracting with a highly experienced events management company that has produced successful rallies for presidential campaigns, corporations and interest groups. It also includes coordination with the other interests who share our views on the issues, providing a field coordinator in each state, conducting a comprehensive communications and advocacy activation plan for each state, and serving as central manager for all events.

Fast-forward to yesterday, when Anne Mulkern of E&E’s Greenwire (syndicated by the New York Times) reported on comments made by API spokeswoman Cathy Landry:

Landry said API has not been among those calling climate legislation a national energy tax. API has not come out in opposition to any of the Senate climate bills, saying that it is “neutral.”

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