Monday, March 02, 2009

Populism: UR Doin It Rong redux

I wrote briefly about Santelli's disingenuous attempt at populism the other day.

Turns out, there's more to the story. A whole lot more. The whole "Chicago Tea Party" movement is a front for some familiar right-wing faces, according to this piece published at PLAYBOY, of all places. Some highlights (it's long):

What we discovered is that Santelli’s “rant” was not at all spontaneous as his alleged fans claim, but rather it was a carefully-planned trigger for the anti-Obama campaign. In PR terms, his February 19th call for a “Chicago Tea Party” was the launch event of a carefully organized and sophisticated PR campaign, one in which Santelli served as a frontman, using the CNBC airwaves for publicity, for the some of the craziest and sleaziest rightwing oligarch clans this country has ever produced. Namely, the Koch family, the multibilllionaire owners of the largest private corporation in America, and funders of scores of rightwing thinktanks and advocacy groups, from the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine to FreedomWorks. The scion of the Koch family, Fred Koch, was a co-founder of the notorious extremist-rightwing John Birch Society.

So today’s protests show that the corporate war is on, and this is how they’ll fight it: hiding behind “objective” journalists and “grassroots” new media movements. Because in these times, if you want to push for policies that help the super-wealthy, you better do everything you can to make it seem like it’s “the people” who are “spontaneously” fighting your fight. As a 19th century slave management manual wrote, “The master should make it his business to show his slaves, that the advancement of his individual interest, is at the same time an advancement of theirs. Once they feel this, it will require little compulsion to make them act as becomes them.” (Southern Agriculturalist IX, 1836.) The question now is, will they get away with it, and will the rest of America advance the interests of Koch, Santelli, and the rest of the masters?

Read the whole thing. It's worth it. It's real journalism.

This prompts another bit of thought: with this piece coming out of Playboy, Greg Palast publishing at Suicide Girls and Larry Flynt's willingness to sue the government to get journalists battlefield access, is porn the new way to fund investigative journalism? New media models, indeed.

I'm half joking, of course, but it bears consideration, with newspapers dying left and right. Somebody's got to do the work, and somebody's got to pay for it. And good journalism is good journalism, whether it's published at the New York Times, Mother Jones, or Playboy.