No Hair Blog: Another Tea Party - Phony Grassroots Anti-quarantine Protests

No Hair Blog

Another Tea Party - Phony Grassroots Anti-quarantine Protests

A new protest movement is sweeping the country, at least according to the breathless (and undiscrening) coverage by corporate media outlets. Always looking for some conflict to drive popularity and clicks on their stories, this astroturfing campaign has been characterized as some sort of grassroots reaction to overbearing government intervention (trying to save their lives), wholesale layoffs and economic distress (not least to the corporate paymasters of the GOP and media), and, somehow, a threat to gun owners.

Users on Reddit first noted that the "spontaneous" protests were preceded by wholesale registration of various internet domains typically www.reopen$state_name.com. Buzzfeed and a number of independent outlets have followed up with more revelations. The astroturfing campaign has been linked to a number of groups in the right-wing orbit. We have gun rights organizations far to the right of the NRA, Freedom Works/In Pursuit of LLC supported by the Koch brothers, a possible Russian connection (this is my surprised face ;-\), right wing grifters in MN previously denounced by the MN Republican party, groups supported by the family of Betsy DeVos and Eric Prince, the Proud Boys and other 'militia' groups, the Trump campaign's own digital shop in Florida - which yet again, appears to be the locus for much of this wholesale internet effort - and, cheering it all on, FOX News. The whole thing is well laid-out by Josh at Popular Info.

Once the infrastructure was in place, Trump spoke up encouraging protests against his own guidelines. Interstingly, the campaign has been focussed on swing states like MN, WI, MI, OH, and FL. The protest in Florida wasn't much - about 2 dozen people with flags and a few truck circling a block in downtown Jacksonville. Still, it was enough to lead the news that day and, shortly after, Duval Co. decided to reopen the beaches. It's a bit infuriating.

But there has been some media push back, unlike the unquestioning acceptance of the 'Tea Party' movement astroturfing campaign, and a number of outlets have been reporting on the astroturfing effort and fake protest theater. Mother Jones reported that one person, Michael Murphy of Jacksonville, went online and snapped up all the available 'www.reopen$state_initials.com' domains in an attempt to short circuit the organizing of these protests. Well, that didn't work out so well. The road to hell is paved ..., and so on.

Well, I'm in favor of reopening the beaches but this phony groundswell of protest is a bit too transparent. They should have used the playbook of the Tea Party. Spread the message on GOP, neo-Nazi, and KKK Facebook groups, get the racists involved - they're dedicated Trump supporters! From here, it looks like weak sauce. As Gov. Whitmer of MI warned, in response to these self-destructive wahoos, the relative lockdown may need to be extended if case numbers go up as a result of these phony protests. That's no concern to the GOP paymasters, they're safe at home, just spending a few bucks to gin up the useful idiots.


Posted by Gordon, No Hair Blog, April 12, 2020

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