Coffee Party Astroturf

What is it that the left and the Old Media said about the Tea Party movement? Didn’t they say it was not really filled with regular folks and didn’t they say it was not really a grass roots level effort because some nefarious “top-down” Republican groups were secretly behind the whole thing? That’s what Paul Krugman said in The New York Times. So did Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi — after someone taught her was “astroturf” even was, that is. In fact, the whole left-wing Old Media establishment attacked the tea party movement as some fake, manufactured thing and claimed that it wasn’t peopled by regular folks like you and me. All you need do is put “astroturf” and “tea party” in a search engine and you’ll get thousands of hits revealing the left’s unhinged response to the tea parties.

So, since they seem to want us to believe that they hate “astroturf,” will the left-wing press get all upset that this “coffee party” effort really IS Astroturf? Will the Old Media explode in calls of “astroturf” as it did during the early phases of the tea party movement? Or will they pretend that this coffee party business is real grass roots and report on the effort based on that false assumption. Already it seems as though the coffee party effort is not meeting any real scrutiny and I just got an email that proves the essential “top-down” style upon which this effort is built.

Of course, we know the charge that the tea party movement is astroturf is untrue. While groups like Dick Armey’s Freedom Works, Americans for Prosperity, and a few others did rush to add their voices to the tea party events held all across the county last year (and continue to today) they neither originated the movement, nor did they invent the scope of events, nor did they control the message in any way. In fact they had to scramble to have any part in it at all. Even the big group’s efforts were ad hoc early on.

I know this because I was there in Chicago as the whole thing began and I saw when, where and how the larger national organizations arrived on the scene and it was later not earlier that it happened. I have, for instance, known Eric Odom, one of the early organizers of a large Chicago tea party event, since 2006. I watched as he staged the first big Chicago tea party and helped him build the effort in my own small way. (Odom now runs American Liberty Alliance.) I also have ties to AFP and Americans for Tax Reform and others and watched as they all began to line up behind the tea party movement. The big groups were late comers, for sure.

But all that aside, we can also discount this “astroturf” accusation by looking at the tea party groups today. Even still there is no national tea party group and the various local tea parties are not united as one. Each group across the land is autonomous and operate at various levels of effectiveness and organization. Some are deeply involved in their local politics, others are barely hanging together as a web-based communication tool.

Now comes this coffee party USA group claiming to be non-partisan. Frank Ross of did a great job proving that the creator of this “coffee party” business was really a big Obama operative. No thanks to the Old Media we quickly found out that Annabel Park, the coffee party originator, is an Obama operative and works for The New York Times as a “strategy analyst.” So, it was created by an Obama operative and member of the Old Media, but this was conveniently absent from early reporting on the coffee party phenomenon.

And now comes the first nationwide effort of this coffee party thingamajig and, surprise, surprise, it is also run by perpetual out-of-towners. Here in Chicago the coffee party is not being run by anyone here meaning it is being floated by outsiders, astroturfers, not grass roots locals like the tea party groups are.

Today I received this email alerting me to a “coffee party” kick-off event being held in Chicago where a local Chicagoan that stumbled upon the thing even admits openly that it isn’t being run by anyone local. In his personal email meant to drum up local support for this astroturf effort, the emailer (whose name I will not release) says, “Clearly, this organization is not led by someone from Chicago.” Why? Because the first event was planned to be held during the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade one of City’s biggest local party days. As the emailer scoffs, “Otherwise they would know that we’d all be at a huge parade on this day and instead of drinking coffee we’d be drinking green beer.”

As the emailer says, it is plain that no one from Chicago is actually part of this faux grass roots “coffee party” business or they’d have chosen a different day to try to kick-off their thingamajig. Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the biggest city wide party days of the year and no one will be much interested in politics that day, for sure!

In all this is a classic example of outsiders, a perfect example of astroturf. Will the Old Media take notice?

Text of the email:

Sent: Thursday, March 11, 2010 01:43 PM
Subject: Coffee Party USA Kick-Off – Saturday, March 13

Friends and Colleagues (some of you may receive this email twice – my apologies),

I hope you all can join me at the Coffee Party USA kick-off on Saturday, March 13 at Charmers Cafe, 1500 W. Jarvis in Rogers Park – 10:30 AM. Clearly, this organization is not led by someone from Chicago. Otherwise they would know that we’d all be at a huge parade on this day and instead of drinking coffee we’d be drinking green beer.

So, let’s compromise… after a cup of coffee and civil dialogue on the important political issues in our communities we will go next door for one of those beers at the Poitin Stil – a quaint Irish Bar.

If you can’t make the coffee party at Charmers Cafe, join us for beers at xxxxxxxx.(ed: I excise this bit so as not to help them advertise their coffee party event)

The Mission of Coffee Party USA is to give voice to Americans who want cooperation in government and bring civility and open discussion to the national political debates that are dividing our communities and our country.

I have attached the press release and poster for this event. Below is an excerpt from the press release:

The Coffee Party movement gives voice to Americans who want to see cooperation in government, and welcomes everyone to the table. “We are purely grassroots movement, independent of any party, corporation, or lobbying organization. That is our strength and we plan to use it to facilitate a collaborative process that would encourage people to come together as a community, checking party affiliation at the door,” said Annabel Park, the founder of Coffee Party USA.

Call if you have questions:

Yep, classic astroturf.

(H/T Chicago News Bench)

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