Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Astroturf in Vogue as it has been for years...

The Clinton campaign has kicked off an outrage over some planted questions. The crime: it appears that the campaign staff planted some questions with the people in the audience. The worry: That Hillary Clinton is dishonest and that we're not hearing the real conversation because of all of this fake banter.

This crap unfortunately goes on all the time.

Recently FEMA was caught hosting an entire phony news conference, for example. The public by now must be getting suspicious. You would hope. They're asleep from my experience.

Looking back at some of the things I've seen first hand, the core of the outrage stems from the phony glow that comes from a staged conversation as opposed to real dialog. This is the core issue, actually. People want to be able to engage in actual conversation -- it makes for more honest dialog and more accountability.

And a lot of people's bullshit meter goes off when they witness the phony stuff in action. The problem is that a good portion of the population simply can't tell the difference. Worse, a good portion of people out there simply see no problem with stuff like the above two examples. A good friends daughter is involved in writing phony articles for a magazine for companies that want that hallowed glow. What's the difference between an article like that, and an actual product review by someone independent?

The difference is everything, but you as an honest listener will never know. The daughter saw no problem with it. Her mother seemed somewhat more troubled, but was unable to see exactly what I saw as a problem; If the article had the words "advertisement" over the top of it, I would not have seen the problem either.

Or maybe the appropriate words "astroturf" would have been better -- phony grass roots, in other words. A shill. Someone posing as an honest observer but in reality paid by the party receiving the goods. Whatever it is, it's wrong.

I'm certain that the main problem with the Clintons in this case is that their campaign staff has been caught. This is probably a rampant issue in the political space -- in a democracy there's no place for it. My experience was with the news, Joe Barr, a long time ago, experienced it with an OS/2 message board -- Microsoft staff posing as "helpful" people, supposedly were there to help people with OS/2 problems, and yet somehow they ended up steering people to Windows every time.

The practice goes back a long way, actually. Bogus letters to the editor in colonial times, for example, were cited as defense for some of the stupidity I observed on an on-line chat forum. "This is common practice in the industry" the people attempting to sweep in under the rug hissed.

I'll never forget what I said in response to that at the time: "Common practice? -- by whom?"

Funny, I never got that last question answered...

1 comment:

corriher said...

Indeed what is most amazing is not the corruption itself, but the fact that the population is so comfortable with it. As usual, amen.