As a counterpoint to den Beste’s followup on bias in the media, as part of which he actually descended from Olympus to leave a comment here, this seems like a good time to recycle a couple of posts from Whistle Stopper about how folks on the anti-liberal side of the fence do their own part to manipulate public opinion.

(from April 6)

For years, I’ve noticed a remarkable uniformity among online conservatives and libertarians, often seeming to hit exactly the same points using exactly the same phrases in any given week in a way that made mere coincidence seem unlikely. Now we can see why. I’m sure the people we see here don’t consider themselves part of a propaganda machine, they probably consider themselves independent thinkers who just happen to read many of the same sources, but the plain fact is that there is a very deliberate and sophisticated effort to manipulate public opinion on behalf of anti-liberal causes.

You’ll recognize many of the names in this article, as either providers or recipients of what are really campaign funds even though the FEC does not recognize them as such:

The NCRP now identifies a total of 79 private foundations that make grants to right-wing political action groups. The NCRP estimates that those foundations granted some $253 million to the 350 activist organizations between 1999 and 2001 alone.

Scores of for-profit corporations add millions more to the funding stream. These include Time-Warner, Altria (Philip Morris), AT&T, Microsoft, Pfizer, Eli Lilly and other members of the pharmaceutical industry, the two titans of the military-industrial complex Boeing and Lockheed Martin, as well as telecommunications, banking, real estate, and financial interests.

. . .giving money to. . .

the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Manhattan Institute, the Hudson Institute, the Hoover Institution, the Federalist Society, the Reason Foundation, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and the National Association of Scholars, to name just a few.

Liberal media bias? Check this out:

A look at the 15 most widely syndicated newspaper columnists makes the point: Nine — 56 percent — are solidly right-wing. Of the remaining six, only three are solidly liberal — Molly Ivins, Nat Hentoff, and Ellen Goodman.

The far right machine also controls the microphone. The top 27 syndicated on-air hosts are right-wing. There is not one liberal voice among them. Journalists and personalities of the right reach millions of people through hundreds of radio and television stations, and cable channels.

And finally, here’s who is really telling all those “independents” what to think and say:

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) is day-to-day operations director of the apparat’s tactical machine.

Every Wednesday at the Washington headquarters of ATR, more than a hundred representatives of major right-wing organizations throng the conference room. Present are White House and Congressional staffers, lobbyists, industry representatives, right-wing think tankers, hard-right editors, and litigators. Attendance is by invitation only.

Sherer took note of Norquist’s view of his populist base: “My ideal citizen [is] the self-employed, home-schooling, IRA-owning guy with a concealed-carry permit — because he doesn’t need the goddamn government for anything.” Here’s where Norquist’s standard-issue buzz-phrases find fertile pasture: “out of sync with America,” “card-carrying liberal from Massachusetts,” “the extreme elements of his party,” “pro-abortion and pro-gay.” As the adage goes, control the rhetoric and you control the debate.

Look familiar? Anyone who doesn’t see the same language and the same talking points repeated here day after day after day is simply blind. Don’t fall for it. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a real grassroots popular consensus. The politest term one can use for it is astroturf.

(from May 28)

Some of you might remember my writing the right-wing phrasebook thread outlining the way the right house uses “think tanks” as proxies to trick “independents” into adopting their favored terms and talking points. Here’s another example of using “think tanks for hire” to manufacture an appearance of popular support where none really exists: the Astroturf de Tocqueville Institute.

If you want some astroturfing done, who you gonna call? The Alexis de Tocqueville Institute:

David N & I think the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute is perfect for this kind of thing. We are working with them on a proposal.

And here is their proposal:

Our three key executives, Cesar Conda, Bruce Bartlett and myself, will run this campaign and we will devote the full energies of our operation and its consultants to this task. We plan to activate our key Advisory Board Members, including Jack Kemp, Robert Kasten, Dick Armey, Michael Boskin and others to mount a public awareness campaign immediately (see enclosed list of Center on Regulation and Economic Growth participants).

ADTI arranged for their ?27% tax increase? message to be sent to hundreds of radio talk shows, to appear in a Washington Times news story and to be sent by a Congressman to all other members of Congress. The Washington Times published a Bartlett op-ed but apparently ?27% tax increase? wasn?t enough of a headline for them, so they gave it the headline ?How to quadruple federal revenue?. (Bartlett?s op-ed actually says ?Federal revenues, however, would not quadruple?.)

Next time you hear a good phrase on a talk show, or read one posted here by one of our resident propaganda machines, before you decide to repeat it yourself, maybe you should consider whether you’ve just become an unwitting cog in the right-wing PR machine.