Hey! Check it out, that Playboy.com piece purporting to show how Santelli’s famous rant was just a big staged commercial for bad, scary, secretive right-wing oligarchs is now offline. Where’d it go? We’re looking into it. We were pretty sceptical about it right off the bat, since it mainly seemed like a bunch of name calling, tied together with some tenuous connections and a couple domain names.
Megan McArdle, who noticed that the article was offline, does a better job than us at tearing it all apart, and suggests that it’s potentially libelous, which is why it was taken offline.
1) The smoking gun, to the extent that there is one, is the “chicagoteaparty” domain. But the timing doesn’t work. No one in August knew that there were going to be massive bailouts and stimulus packages against which they could protest. On the other hand, if you think that taxes are going to go up, it’s not crazy for founding-fathers-obsessed conservatives to start registering any domain that involves tea parties. That doesn’t mean that they then orchestrated an elaborate ruse in order to give them an excuse to deploy the domain; it’s just as likely that they simply leaped in when opportunity arose. Domain squatting is ubiquitous these days, particularly among political groups, and there are probably dozens out there now just waiting for the right catchphrase to make them relevant.
2) I don’t see any evidence offered that Koch money funds FreedomWorks, or any astroturfing organisation. They may–a lot of groups do it, including groups on the left–but there’s precious little evidence of it in this article. Koch is pretty open about their connection with institutions like IHS, but from what I know of them, astroturfing doesn’t really seem like their style. I’ve seen Koch in action at private events, and though I’ll respect the privacy, I’ll say that even in the company of other like-minded rich people, he displayed rather a mania for honest dealing. That’s not to say that it’s impossible that they do fund FreedomWorks–I’m not particularly conversant with the world of 501(c)(3) funders. But Freedomworks doesn’t publish its donor list, and there’s no source offered for the claim.
She goes on to debunk the whole thing even further. Also check out the guy at the Daily Bail, who claims that the original article totally misrepresented them, falsely accusing it of being an astroturfing site.
We’re reaching out for comment and will update.
Update: We still haven’t heard from Playboy, though NYMag (which discovered the article had been taken down first) got CNBC to say that the accusation is total hogwash. We also like the quote from Glenn Reynolds who notes that with this wonderful thing called the internet, likeminded people can organise suspiciously fast these days.
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