Fake Real Americans

Southern Beale has a good summary of what this means:

[O]ne Nashville-based lobbyist says paid “grassroots” movements are becoming a part of every major civic project.

Southern Beale counts the ways:


• It’s been revealed that many of the “real people” who phone in to talk radio programs are actually paid actors reading from scripts.

• Candidates for office have hired temp workers from staffing agencies to hold campaign signs and look like supporters.

• Corporate sockpuppets working for D.C. lobbyists are given phony titles at made-up front groups, then write op-eds, letters, and even make personal appearances to promote their clients’ viewpoint.

• Political campaigns pay thousands of dollars to promote certain candidates and positions via paid professional blog commenters.

• Campaigns routinely hire ghost writers to pen Letters To The Editor as “real citizens.”

The next step, of course, is fake threats from your opponents. I’m not usually one to speculate but this doesn’t real to me.

41 replies
  1. 1
    Bob Loblaw says:

    Pssh, next thing you’re going to tell me is that state legislatures don’t write their own bills either.

  2. 2
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    The next step, of course, is fake threats from your opponents.

    IIRC an Indiana prosecutor got fired for writing to advise Scott Walker to arrange just such a thing.

  3. 3
    OzoneR says:

    are they fake voters too?

  4. 4
    The Political Nihilist Formerly Known As Kryptik says:

    Fah, you communazi. Don’t you understand that this is simply the natural outgrowth of the privatization of civic life? Why do you hate the markets?

  5. 5
    MikeJ says:

    This doesn’t real to me? What is this I don’t even?

  6. 6
    James E Powell says:

    This, apparently, is the Republican program for job creation.

  7. 7
    Poopyman says:

    If it’s not real, and the FBI can trace it back, there will be serious shit to pay for these guys.

  8. 8
    Martin says:

    One of the assignments in our technical writing course was to get a LTE published. Once you know what they’re looking for (grammar, number of words, topic – intro, etc.), you can get north of 50% of what you submit published.

    It would cost very little to have a skilled LTE writer get letters all over the country.

  9. 9
    The Political Nihilist Formerly Known As Kryptik says:


    This relies on two assumptions.

    1) This stuff is actually illegal (which, thanks to loopholes that these fuckers seem to love so winding around, it may not be).

    2) If it is illegal, that the fuckers actually in charge will pay a price rather than the…ahem…’contracted workers’.

    I’m not sure I can believe in these two assumptions enough to be as optimistic as you. Not in a world where O’Keefe and Breitbart are still treated as the Grand Poobahs of Journalistic Genius.

  10. 10
    DPirate says:

    I got paid to picket for the Teamsters. I was just hired labor for the day (only one day because I decided it was bullshit and wouldn’t go back).

  11. 11
    schrodinger's cat says:

    The greater wingnuttia is not going to harsh my mellow today. I am celebrating India’s win in the world cup final. It has been a long wait, but totally worth it..

  12. 12
    WereBear says:

    Dang. Temp Work sure has changed since I made a living at it.

    Of course, that was when I was an EXTRAORDINARILY ATTRACTIVE person of the FEMALE PERSUASION who was UNDER 21 years of age.

    All the ladeeez know what I mean.

    Republicans ran a lot of businesses in the 1980’s.

  13. 13
    Poopyman says:

    @The Political Nihilist Formerly Known As Kryptik: They called in the FB frickin’ I. That’s filing a false report, at minimum. And I’m sure the authorities would take a dim view of that.

  14. 14
    John Emerson says:

    One group of Wisconsin death threats apparently was real. There were several from one young woman.

  15. 15
    John Cole says:

    The next step, of course, is fake threats from your opponents.

    Been there, done that. They are already a step ahead of you.

  16. 16
    Mark S. says:

    From the paid radio show callers link:

    We supply voice talent to take/make your on-air calls, improvise your scenes or deliver your scripts. Using our simple online booking tool, specify the kind of voice you need, and we’ll get your the right person fast. Unless you request it, you won’t hear that same voice again for at least two months, ensuring the authenticity of your programming for avid listeners.

    For some reason, this reminds of that Seinfeld where Kramer gets a job being a patient actor at a medical school.

  17. 17
    Chad N Freude says:

    @John Emerson: Link?

    My first impulse is to say the Mackinac calls are fake, especially since

    The calls “made repeated references” to Maddow

    But since many so-called conservatives have decided to return to the 19th century, it’s possible that some so-called liberals/progressives have decided to return to the ’60s.

  18. 18
    Keith G says:

    Caesar and Pompey were excellant at buying crowd support.

    Augustus too.

    Humans do not change that much.

  19. 19
    lllphd says:

    i’m with you on the tpm story, john. i’m sure no one recalls my skepticism of the WI ‘death threats,’ as there was never a name attached to the woman who supposedly confessed.

    until this week; she was finally indicted. but i remain a little unconvinced. not that angry poor schlubs like you and me who are getting screwed by the rich folk won’t occasionally let their rage get the better of them, but that earlier WI death threat caper, and now this one with mackinac have rove’s (non)fingerprints all over them. whether he pulled them or not, if you know what i mean.

    as for the paid crowds – kermit roosevelt has moved stateside, folks. we have seen the banana republic and it is us.

  20. 20
    jheartney says:

    The Maddow references are what is screaming “FAKE” to me so loudly. Maddow doesn’t appeal to mouth-breathing thug types, which is pretty much what you have to be to call in these sorts of threats.

    Instead, these threats are exactly the sort of thing you’d expect a projecting wingnut psycho to imagine that demon libruls might say.

  21. 21
    lllphd says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    yeah; what did the guy call that? false flag? and that prosecutor from IL referenced it so casually, like ya know, this is what we learned at summer repug slime tactics camp. just another tool in the toolkit.

  22. 22

    I used to discount the “paid troll” thing, but here’s an ad for one in Canada.

  23. 23
    wasabi gasp says:

    Rachel seemed like such a nice person.

  24. 24
    lllphd says:

    @The Political Nihilist Formerly Known As Kryptik:

    and yeah, in that world, breitbart is actually eager for the sherrod case, claiming it’s all about pigford. what an idiot; no court in the country will allow him to bring any of that stuff up.

    as for the legality of this creative crowd sourcing project, oh yeah, no doubt it’s legal. a name i mentioned above, kermit roosevelt, brought it mainstream in iran in ’53, which overturned the first democratically elected pres in the mid-east, ushering in of course our friend the shah. the rest, as they say, is history.

    but you likely knew that, and the fact that this template has served the US since then all over the world, a la economic hit-man.

    lovely world we’ve created. hard to be proud.

  25. 25
    Napoleon says:


    I don’t – Some of the callers and e-mails you get even with a show like Diane Rhem are so obviously BS. There was one or 2 of them in the show she did with Bernie Sanders this week. At the very least they are wingnuts who make up a story that is intended to illustrate how wrong the liberal position is (never mind they have to make up something to do that).

  26. 26
    trollhattan says:

    Also, too, astroturfing for funz and profitz.


  27. 27
    lllphd says:

    @Chad N Freude:

    one would tend to agree. but rage takes all forms; don’t underestimate it, and it would play right in to the rightwingnut zeitgeist for liberals to get defensive about this.

    i do hope – and actually, fully expect – rachel to come out first thing on monday and assert her disdain for any interpretation of her stories to mean we should go out and commit violent crimes against people, or even threaten to. if she’s smart, she’ll caveat every single such story with this admonition. unlike the rush/beck/coulter/savage/et al., crowd.

  28. 28

    Where do I go to apply for a paid comments gig?

  29. 29
    lllphd says:


    i have to agree. same thing with that death threat letter in WI. way too much info, way too revealing, etc.

    this is why i was so convinced it was a rove operation. now that woman in WI is indicted. not at all sure why they never released her name. altho they may have wanted to make sure she was acting alone.

    still, all these things considered, these still smack of rove tactics. he’s flippin’ notorious for creating false crimes committed by the other side, committed right before the watershed event (election, bill vote, etc.), and then everyone’s distracted and he’s scot free, not leaving fingerprints.

    makes me wish i was a reporter in WI so i could cover this story with a fine tooth comb and get all sorts of background details on this woman. oh well…

    yet another reason the shock doctrine works; keep ’em all unemployed and destitute and they’ll do anything for money.

  30. 30
    MonkeyBoy says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: sorry, but the link you gave is not real evidence because look at this link. You should have found and given a cached link.

  31. 31
    jcricket says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how little actual support there is for pretty much everything Republicans want to do, yet how much success they have in getting people to: A) Believe there is a lot of support; B) Get stuff passed.

    We basically suck.

  32. 32
  33. 33

    I’m not buying the Mackinac Center threat B.S. either. Blogged about it myself here this morning:

    More Dem threats against conservatives? Or not?

  34. 34
    aimai says:

    @Chad N Freude:

    Its possible that Maddow has some totally nutty viewers, just like Glen Beck, but its very hard to believe that their nuttiness has anything to do with her show–one person (Beck) speaks in absolutes about the death of individuals and civilizations and one person (Maddow) makes slow, awkward, but insightful jokes about current political issues. A schizophrenic or any other kind of nut might be triggered, I suppose, by Maddow as well as Beck but its extremely unlikely and can’t be blamed on Maddow anymore than you could blame it on the guy who used to teach oil painting on PBS if one of his viewers suddenly decided he was beaming death instructions through the tube.


  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:


    Well, in the people’s defense, the Republicans just out and out lie. Look at all of the Republicans in the Midwest who signed pledges to support unions and yet voted to bust those same unions.

    The problem is more that the people seem to fall for the Republicans’ “come back, baby, I’ll never do it again” claims over and over again rather than figuring out that Republicans are pathological liars.

  36. 36
    trixie larue says:

    I signed up to volunteer for a campaign last fall. First thing I was told was to come to a rally and pretend to be a republican in support of the candidate; i turned that down. Next was to go to a rally and “seem” to be a union person, but not in an obvious way and no signs. I found another office and worked the phones there. This candidate was a solid good guy and these idiots were in charge. I came away feeling that it was no accident that the person lost. He lost and it cost all of us.

  37. 37
    WereBear says:

    @karen marie: Where do I go to apply for a paid comments gig?

    Lately, they have been coming to me: they want to plant a post on my blog.

  38. 38
    Chad N Freude says:

    @aimai: The fact that Maddow is repeatedly named makes it highly suspect. Rachel Maddow incites both derision of stupidity and critical thinking, both of which are incredibly threatening to Real Americans(tm).

    ETA: That’s incites derision of stupidity and incites critical thinking as well. Semantic ambiguity is not your friend, but hey, that’s the English language.

  39. 39
    The Raven says:

    Can you spell agent provocateur?

    Oh, no, it’s the French!

  40. 40
    DPirate says:

    @karen marie: I have that here. Happily, I discovered they just check the number of comments, and not the quality, because they are idiots. Unhappily, they send all the money to John Cole, laundered as “ad revenue”.

    Right now, the office furniture magnates are employing me, but what I really need are stainless steel oversized lightswitch plates made in Japan.

  41. 41
    jinxtigr says:

    This is the death of libertarianism in action.

    The whole libertarian, ‘freedom’, ‘free market’ thing completely depends on the concept that people have valid information.

    Or can find out valid information, when they have to.

    The problem is, it’s so easy to swamp the system with spam and bullshit that it immediately breaks down completely. People cannot be trusted to know best for themselves, not because they’re dumb people, but because they’re being bullshitted so hard that it’s literally impossible to make sense of the world. There isn’t enough time in the day to fact-check every bullshit claim, investigate the latest artificial food additive being dumped in everything under the sun (hello, ‘sucralose’ which is neither sucral nor ose! you’re a chlorocarbon!) and inspect your own hamburger.

    The capacity of self-interested humans to bullshit is way, way greater than the capacity of their victims to audit.


    The capacity of self-interested humans to bullshit is way, way greater than the capacity of their victims to audit.

    This is important.

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