News That Isn’t News, Teabag Edition

Kate Zernike writes for the New York Times that the “tea party” movement is largely being organized and funded by FreedomWorks, which isn’t really news.

FreedomWorks staffers are going around the country training the teabaggers how to be useful political tools and get out the vote for FreedomWorks candidates. It is this organizing that is behind the several upsets in recent Republican primaries, in which “tea party” candidates upset long-entrenched Republican incumbents. FreedomWorks is also helping Glenn Beck stage his vanity rally in Washington, DC this weekend.


Through its political action committee, FreedomWorks plans to spend $10 million on the midterm elections, on campaign paraphernalia — signs for candidates like Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida are stacked around the offices here — voter lists, and a phone system that allows volunteers to make calls for candidates around the country from their home computers. With “microfinancing” grants, it will steer money from FreedomWorks donors — the tax code protects their anonymity — to local Tea Parties.

There are other groups, including labor unions, spending more than that. But the interesting thing to me is the degree to which the sheep teabaggers tea partiers see themselves as a grassroots anti-establishment movement when it’s really an astroturf organization being fueled by establishment figures of long standing.

FreedomWorks itself evolved from another organization, Citizens for a Sound Economy, created in 1984 by the Koch Foundation with help from Big Tobacco. Joshua Holland of AlterNet has called FreedomWorks a “Wall Street front group,”, although I think it’s probably more accurate to call it “astroturf for hire.” FreedomWorks works with a number of PR firms to manipulate public opinion for a number of right-wing special interests.

According to SourceWatch, its funders in 2007 included —

  • Armstrong Foundation, $20,000
  • Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, $80,000
  • Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, $100,000
  • Sarah Scaife Foundation, $200,000
  • Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation, $20,000

In other words — grassroots, my ass. What’s behind the “tea parties” are the same mega-wealthy familiy trusts that bankroll everything else that’s right wing in America. Other establishment figures associated with FreedomWorks include Dick Armey, Steve Forbes, and C. Boyden Gray.

Teabaggers also like to pretend they aren’t working for either party. But Zernike writes, “in the 2010 midterm elections, FreedomWorks is urging Tea Party groups to work for any Republican, on the theory that a compromised Republican is better than Democratic control of Congress.” In other words, now that most of the primaries are behind us the baggers are being used as Republican party operatives, and I doubt many of them will notice.

See also Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast.

19 thoughts on “News That Isn’t News, Teabag Edition

  1. The sheep will never admit that they are being led. Koch Industries, Dick Armey and their ilk know the ‘hot button’ issues that will get the white, male, high school grad up in arms. And the stupid and gullible white, male, high school grad campaigns and then votes against their own interests and for the interests of the ninth richest men in the country, brothers David & Charles Koch. (I hope Chas doesn’t get too upset with me listing him second.)

  2. Lemmings don’t know that they’re lemmings, sheep don’t know that they’re sheep, so why would we expect these brave heroes to realize that they’re part of astroturf groups funded by the wealthiest families in America?
    Conservatives have a herd mentality, and when you’re part of a herd, there’s nothing else to do but follow the asshole ahead of you, no matter where that asshole leads.

    PS: Isn’t Mexico run by like a half dozen, or so, families? So is the Republican Party. When did we become like Mexico, and who thinks that’s a good idea?

  3. Actually, I think the model that the Koch brothers, Dick Armey, et al. would prefer would be Brazil.

    It often seems to me that the goal of their policies is to drive income disparity in the US to the point where they and their pals get to continue their lush globe-trotting lifestyle while most of the rest of us are driven into favelas – the shanty-towns that line the outskirts of Rio and Sao Paulo.

  4. Regarding the “Brilliant at Breakfast” article’s description of a wall with posters of both Ronald Reagan and Jerry Garcia:

    I watched an interesting BBC documentary called “The History of Anarchism” which recalled the period in the early eighties when the “anti-authoritarian” elements of both left and right briefly seemed to link over the concept/fantasy of a decentralized state. It seems like quite a period piece now, with a strong ‘back to the land” element. (speaking as one who has gone back) I guess the lefties were envisioning the Barcelona Government and the righties something out of Ayn Rand. Neither side seemed to have a secure grip on reality.

    Rachel Maddow used the term “anarchism” in describing the political origins of the Koch brothers. I suppose “anti-authoritarianism” means somethng different to your average tycoon than it might to someone delivering submarine sandwiches.

    “Ay, there’s the rub.”

  5. Great post, maha. I keep going back to Rove who went ‘back’ to Machiavelli for ‘advice’ in how to successfully march a country from being a republic to being a tyranny. “In the march from republic to tyranny, religion must be empathized,” Machiavelli.

    And where does any juggernaut (religious or otherwise) lead a population – to blind devotion. Again, the evidence that this is happening is glaring.

    Rove’s ‘mission,’ and he’s still on it, is to eliminate the Democratic party from American politics, and once that is successfully accomplished America will, for all practical purposes, be a one-party political system – and that’s tyranny.

  6. “Teabaggers also like to pretend they aren’t working for either party”

    I mean the whole teabagger thing is a media creation in my opinion. I’ve not seen one candidate with a TP next to his or her name, they are all republicants. It’s a brilliant bait and switch, once the GOP went in the shitter they just made up a new name for the same old policies. Brilliant on one hand horribly transparent on the other, they could not have pulled it off without the willful propagandizing of the main stream media. The media needs “change” to sell commercials, the dimwitted teabagger movement is change, it sells commercials, newspaper, magazines etc.

  7. The posts and comments are quite good today. I’ve been away for a little bit trying to ignore these issues – but I’ve found mediamatters today and to look at the things Glenn Beck is saying about his next dumb event are crazy! You should look at the promotional video he created (with the gold selling/buying advertisement on the bottom of the screen)!~ I would simply put him in an asylum rather than put him on tv, but on Saturday he will be on tv all day long!

    The upshot of all this is that these people are trying to change history. They want us to ignore the mess left by eight years of the Elephant Party and elect them again(??) Now I am frustrated by the moderation of President Obama, but can anyone imagine old man McCain in the White House right now? Here is my totally made up agenda for this year:
    1)military actions in Iran.
    2)permanent Bush tax cuts.
    3)more tax cuts because the economy is in the toilet.(?)
    4)more freedom (that term has been trademarked by the Republicans).

    I can only think of two things any Republican has proposed since Ronald Reagan. At least Reagan did other things! After 1982 he raised taxes to help with the deficit, he negotiated with the Soviets about eliminating nuclear weapons. Can we even imagine Obama doing either of those things? Will President Obama talk about the fiscal responsibility of raising taxes? I doubt it.

  8. Oh, the Beck event looks like a real “Lie-a-palooza.”
    MLK and Beck have one thing in common – four-letter last names. Of course, when you mention four letter words in conjunction with Glenn, B-E-C-K aren’t the first four that jump to mind.
    You absolutely MUST watch Becks messianic tribute to himself as the saviour of this nation. Try not to puke. If you look at it as comedy, it’s a laugh riot. The fact that there’ll be thousands of simpletons, makes it tragic.
    It’s yet another roadsign that either America is dying, or we’re well on the road to something so stupid and twisted, Rod Serling couldn’t have nightmared-it-up it up after some bad eggs, toxic taco’s with nuclear hot sauce, and brown acid from Woodstock. Have a puke. Er, look:

  9. Yippee! How blessed I am.. My mother-in-law lent me money for bus fare to attend Beckfest 8/28. I’m over the moon with elation at the opportunity to be part of, and witness to, one of America’s greatest events. It’s not exactly like witnessing the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but it’s not far from it…We’re going to restore Honor to America. God bless Glenn Beck.. and the paps that suckled him!

    Glenn has a dream..

  10. Swami, I almost made a comment about bringing something to kill yourself with. I shouldn’t make these poor jokes. I need a job.

  11. Swami, so you’re going to Becks, ‘I Hate His Dream’ con this weekend?
    Bring barf bags.
    No, bring suntan lotion to sell. Some of those lily white crackers will have forgotten, and you can make a mint selling the stuff. Dr. Sholls bunion pads, Dentu-grip and Depends come to mind, also, too!
    Build a booth, and they will come…

  12. I hear Beck is promising many miracles will occur at this great event! It’s a Klan rally and a tent revival!

    First thing Glenn’s going to do is feed the multitudes with just one bag of pork rinds, a 6-pack of Coors and three Big Macs. Then he’ll bless the Cheesemakers (because who doesn’t love Velveeta?). Then he’ll call all those in Hoverounds to the front of the crowd, to heal them. Praise Murdoch! Ah kin walk agin!

    A short time later, there will be a rush for the Port-A-Potties, followed by an explosion they’ll be able to hear in Baltimore.

    What a great way to honor Dr. King! Even liveblogging couldn’t do it justice.

    • First thing Glenn’s going to do is feed the multitudes with just one bag of pork rinds, a 6-pack of Coors and three Big Macs.


  13. Swami,
    When you’re at the “I Have a Scheme” old monkey rally, be sure to say “Hi!” to Sarah, ‘The Whore of Babblin-on.”

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