Confessions of a Paid Astroturfer

A woman who says she’s a paid member of the Obama marketing team shared the campaign’s astroturfing strategy in an anonymous email to HillBuzz. I can’t vouch for the credibility of the emailer, but it certainly jibes with my observations of the leftroots strategy.

The internal campaign idea is to twist, distort, humiliate and finally dispirit you.

We pay people and organize people to go to all the online sites and “play the part of a clinton or mccain supporter who just switched our support for obama”

We do this to stifle your motivation and to destroy your confidence.

We did this the whole primary and it worked.

Sprinkle in mass vote confusion and it becomes bewildering. Most people lose patience and just give up on their support of a candidate and decide to just block out tv, news, websites, etc.

This surprisingly has had a huge suppressing movement and vote turnout issues.

Next, we infiltrate all the blogs and all the youtube videos and overwhelm the voting, the comments, etc. All to continue this appearance of overwhelming world support.

People makes posts to the effect that the world has “gone mad”

Thats the intention. To make you feel stressed and crazy and feel like the world is ending.

Wrangled by strategist David Axelrod, the Axelturfers also did their best to skew polls in favor of Obama. The tipster also told HillBuzz, “There is a huge staff of people working around the clock, watching every site, blogs, etc. We flood these sites. We have had a goal to overwhelm.”

If you have a political blog (or lurk or comment on one), then you’re already familiar with this artificial grassroots movement. The email confession is far from shocking, and in many ways just confirms what we already know. But how will the right use this information?

Many writers on the right side of the blogosphere have weighed the relationship between bloggers and the GOP, and have found it wanting at best. The rightroots movement, if it can be said to exist at all, is extremely disorganized and consequently, ineffective in contributing to the success of Republican campaigns.

Undoubtedly there will be a wealth of discussion in the coming months about how the right must respond to a well-developed leftroots operation. This discussion will focus on technological organization and how we can leapfrog past the left and beat them at their own game. Further attention will be paid to the development of alternative news sources that counter the bias of the mainstream media. But there are also some questions that need to be asked that will strike many as distasteful. Can we beat the left by always taking the high road? Are we willing to employ the sleazy tactics of the Obama campaign? Is it necessary (or desirable) to serve our candidates by playing dirty while they keep their boots clean?

I don’t know the answers yet, but I have my suspicions.


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