Sorry, just when you thought that you didn’t need to hear anymore about “The Rant”, a blog at Playboy.com is alleging that the whole thing was a staged commercial for a conservative event. Here’s their telling of it:
What we discovered is that Santelli’s “rant” was not at all spontaneous as his alleged fans claim, but rather it was a carefully-planned trigger for the anti-Obama campaign. In PR terms, his February 19th call for a “Chicago Tea Party” was the launch event of a carefully organised and sophisticated PR campaign, one in which Santelli served as a frontman, using the CNBC airwaves for publicity, for the some of the craziest and sleaziest rightwing oligarch clans this country has ever produced. Namely, the Koch family, the multibilllionaire owners of the largest private corporation in America, and funders of scores of rightwing thinktanks and advocacy groups, from the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine to FreedomWorks. The scion of the Koch family, Fred Koch, was a co-founder of the notorious extremist-rightwing John Birch Society.
Within hours of Santelli’s rant, a website called ChicagoTeaParty.com sprang to life. Essentially inactive until that day, it now featured a YouTube video of Santelli’s “tea party” rant and billed itself as the official home of the Chicago Tea Party. The domain was registered in August, 2008 by Zack Christenson, a dweeby Twitter Republican and producer for a popular Chicago rightwing radio host Milt Rosenberg—a familiar name to Obama campaign people.
Barry Ritholtz’ take is that if any of this proves to be true, CNBC may have to apologise and Santelli may have to fall on his sword.
We’re a little more sceptical. First of all, the article is kind of obnoxious, using phrases like “craziest and sleaziest rightwing oligarch clans” to describe folks who fund middle-of-the-road groups like Reason and Cato. It kind of looks like they’re compensating for, um, a lack of a smoking gun.
Second, there seems to be some idea that this rant was way out of Santelli’s character. Have they seen this guy? He’s been railing against everything for months. What would’ve been weird is if he hadn’t lost his wig. Beyond that, it’s obvious that Santelli hadn’t just made up the Chicago Tea Party thing right on the spot there. He said something to the effect of, we’re having a “Tea Party” here this summer. In other words, he admitted that he knew some folks (dweeby though they may be) had been planning this event. So he admits to having been aware of this, in the rant, and Playboy’s charge is that there’s some conspiracy here.
Anyway, consider us unimpressed by this. The whole thing is getting tired, but obviously it’s OK to rant against bailouts and such until you start ranting against one that goes to help homeowners, in which case it’s part of some paranoid rightwing plat to screw people. Yeah, that’s it.
DISCLOSURE: In the summer of 2003, I attended a seminar at Bryn Mawr college in PA that was put on by the Institute for Humane Studies, a group that gets a lot of support from the crazy oligarch Koch family. So obviously I’m conflicted up to the wazoo on this one, and am just part of a scheming right-wing cabal to push families out of their homes.
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