Tim’s point that the protests are all irrelevant notwithstanding, the Santelli/Koch conspiracy theory seems to be picking up, and at this point, I just don’t think there is really much there to support it. As I noted last night in the comments, sure, it is interesting, but so are all conspiracy theories. The JFK conspiracy theories are so interesting that Hollywood spent a record (at the time) amount of money creating Oliver Stone’s JFK. The conspiracy theories about 9/11 being an inside job are all interesting, but they are nutty as hell.
So far, looking at the report, the evidence appears to be not very compelling. Basically, it is that there is a right-wing structure founded by the Koch foundation willing to fund opposition to Obama’s plan, that some guy registered a domain name in August 2008, that Rick Santelli is up for a new contract this summer, and that many of the tea party web pages look familiar.
To the first point, regarding the Koch family and right-wing structures willing to fight the Obama initiatives, my only response is: “No kidding.” Similar structures, perhaps not as well-funded, exist throughout every sphere of politics.
As to the “coincidence” of some guy registering the domain name chicagoteaparty.com in August of lats year, that too is not very surprising. As I noted last night, it didn’t exactly take Nostradamus to figure out that the tax cuts for the top tier would be allowed to expire, as during the campaign, if I remember correctly, the debate was not whether or not those tax rates would go up, but would they be phased out early or merely allowed to expire? There was no debate about whether any of the Democratic candidates would end the tax cuts or not, it was a matter of when. Folks register domain names all the times in anticipation they will pay off (you can go visit Ronpaul2012.com and you can almost bet that someone has snapped up all sorts of domain names for Hillary). And in case you missed the debate among Democrats over whether to end the Bush tax cuts or just let them out, the McCain campaign was out there every single day telling you they were going to raise your taxes. The entire Joe the Plumber phenomenon was created out of the erroneous notion that Obama was going to raise taxes on Joe.
In regards to Santelli, maybe his rant is surprising to someone who has never been exposed to him before, but as someone who has watched him a good bit, his tea party rant was part of a schtick he has had for a long time. If it feels fake to you, you haven’t watched him before- they all seem fake. I remember watching similar rants from him all through the meltdown last fall- back when the comments section at Calculated Risk were all renaming themselves Comrade, there were daily links in the comments section there to similar rants by Santelli. The idea that this tea party thing was something out of character for Santelli just ignores the fact that he has been doing this for years, and it has always been the same- the same smirk, the same body language, the same rant and the odd quirks of turning away from the camera while it is on him- it is all there. Here is a video of him from September of last year.
As to the rest of it, it just seems like the simplest answer is the easiest. Drudge puts up a siren, the usual suspects react, and it is no surprise that these spread wildly through social networking websites and look similar. THEY ARE SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES. This is why political movements have adopted the technology- for this kind of rapid response. All the people in these social networks presumably think alike, or think alike to the degree that they belong. Thus, it makes sense they would all quickly adopt the same meme and spread it, and given the limitations of facebook and what not, it makes sense to me they all adopted similar looks. No one suggests a conspiracy when everyone in the facebook network puts up the same application asking 25 questions about themselves. Ask yourself- how long after Michelle Malkin suggested that Obama was responsible for all the stock market losses since November 4th did it take before you heard the same thing on literally every right-wing website? Was that a conspiracy, too?
Look, it would not surprise me if there is a well-funded organization and network out there waiting to pounce on something. Opportunism is not, in my book, the same as a deep conspiracy to penetrate the ranks of CNBC with a sleeper cell to stage fake rants which can then be used as the basis of a “popular” grass-roots uprising (and they just aren’t that popular). Maybe there is more to it- I have been wrong before, and as we all know, my instincts suck, so by all means, keep looking at it. But right now, it just seems like there are simpler answers for everything out there.