Astroturf update

Nothing in Time this week, but since they seem to have a bit of a lag time, I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt for now.

Our story so far, for those of you just tuning in (if you’ve been keeping track, just skip down to the bottom of this entry):

Through its GOP Team Leader site, the Republican Party officially encourages people to cut-and-paste Republican talking points, sign their own names, and email them to news media as letters to the editor purportedly written by average, concerned citizens. There’s a word for this. Actually there are several: deception, fraud, deceit, sham, hoax — take your choice. And it gets better: for partaking in this act of officially-sanctioned deception, GOP Team Leaders are awarded points which can be redeemed for swag such as tote bags and caps and so on.

I first made note of the latest in this series of RNC-approved duplicities on May 5. Since then, numerous papers have fallen for the subterfuge, including the Kalamazoo Gazette, the Huntsville (AL) Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Anchorage Daily News, the San Diego Union, the Gallitin (TN) News Examiner and the Glasgow (KY) Daily Times. I am told that USA Today and Money magazine also got suckered.

And in their May 26 issue, Time magazine fell for it. I noted it here, suggested you (politely, always politely) write them and let them know they’d been, well, snookered, and over 180 of you did, at last count.

Why do I keep harping on this? Because I think it’s extraordinary that the Republican Party officially encourages its members to lie and misrepresent themselves to newspaper and newsmagazine editors. And I think when a newsmagazine of Time’s stature is hoodwinked, they owe their readers an explanation.

So I want to keep the pressure on. Politely. This site gets an average of about 15,000 unique visitors a day, which means there are some 14,820 of you who will read this today, give or take, who haven’t sent a note to Time yet. So let’s get on that. I want to turn over the rock and expose the deceptive practices of the GOP Team Leader site to the light of day. (To avoid the inevitable cheap editorializing on Time’s part, let’s make sure we’re not fighting astroturf with astroturf. Write them in your own words, explaining the situation and why it concerns you. Don’t just cut-and-paste my entries.)

(Afterthought: Hell, just to keep everything above-board, make a point of mentioning that you saw it here. Unlike the GOP, I’m not trying to hide my involvement or pull the wool over anyone’s eyes — I’m just trying to get their attention so they’ll run a clarification.)

I’m going to post the address they list in their magazine, which is different from the one I found online and posted last week, and who knows? — maybe last week’s email all got routed to some low-level intern who just dumped it all in the trash. I’m also cc’ing myself again here, so I can keep a rough count of how many of you write in.

Did I mention about being polite? Polite, polite, polite. Honey, vinegar, flies. As someone who gets a, shall we say, wide range of email myself, I can promise you that people are far more likely to listen to what you have to say when you are, well, polite.

Here’s the email. You can also send faxes to 212-522-8949. Now go, and be fruitful.