With a history that could surprise the most jaded Beltway insider, Jack Bonner, head of the D.C. public relations firm Bonner & Associates, might just be the king of corporate Astroturf in the nation’s capital.
Whether its on the health care debate or the proposed clean energy bill, a notorious public relations tactic known as astroturfing is heavily influencing the public conversation.
Astroturfing, the manufacturing of a fake grassroots uprising, is a big money service offered by some very powerful Washington public relations companies. One of the more successful of these is Bonner & Associates, which boasts of a long history of manufacturing fake grassroots movements for corporate America.
A 1993 New York Times article, A New Breed of Hired Hands Cultivates Grass-Roots Anger, profiles Jack Bonner and his company as a “new breed of Washington firms that has turned grass-roots organizing to the advantage of its high-paying clients, generally trade associations and corporations.” As the Times rightly puts it: “the rise of this industry has made it hard to tell the difference between manufactured public opinion and genuine explosions of popular sentiment.”