Rick Santelli Conspiracy Redux, Part II

The curious tale of Rick’s Santelli’s magical rant continues. As the major news organizations lumbered to report on a quickly-pulled Playboy blog piece which accused Rick Santelli of being the mouthpiece of a massive libertarian astro-turf conspiracy (read the back story here), reporters were able to confirm and deny many of the article’s details. Notice how the MSM is now responding to and investigating a phenomenon which originated exclusively in the blogosphere. One wonders how much the tide of influence will continue to shift.

No, CNBC correspondent Santelli is not affiliated (in his own words here) in any way with the myriad “Tea Party” planning websites which sprang to being within a day of his now infamous outburst. Yes, several prominent libertarian organizations, such as FreedomWorks (which has old, but no longer functioning ties to the Koch family) have been sponsoring and encouraging the protests.

Does this vindicate the authors of the Playboy piece? Not exactly, though its authors sure seem to think so. They just put up a long post launching a counter-attack on Megan McArdle, the Atlantic blogger who questioned their investigation. Unfortunately, the substance of their rebuttal, that McArdle lives with a FreedomWorks employee and so is therefore either a hypocrite or, worse, part of the conspiracy, is typically hysteric.

What seems so hilarious to me is how uncontroversial the alleged “astro-turfing” turns out to be. Santelli, invoking a familiar libertarian allusion to the Boston Tea Party, unwittingly spark a broad-based internet and protest campaign, whose initial grassroots efforts were quickly helped by big libertarian thinktanks as a means of policy activism. How is this any different from Campus Progress, funded by the Center for American Progress, or PACs in general? It’s the bread and butter of civic association that folks band together to advocate their causes, including institutional organizations.

Of course, maybe some of the sites appear folksy or populist in a ingenuous way, but I’m not sure that qualifies as true “astro-turfing” so much as democratic politics. The “tea party” organizers capitalized brilliantly on Santelli’s clip, making it much larger than it probably ever intended to be. In that sense, they perhaps unfaily appropriated Santelli as their folk hero, but again, that doesn’t to my mind constitute technological malfeasance.

What distressed the left-of-center blogosphere was the apparent velocity which Santelli’s symbolic “tea party” imparted to stimulus opposition. But that, it seems to me, is less the product of a right-wing (nut-wing?) conspiracy than the fact that the internet and Web 2.0 media in general are remarkable means of rallying citizens for public causes (see Instapundit’s take here). Barack Obama supporters, of all people, should understand that perfectly well.

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5 Responses to “Rick Santelli Conspiracy Redux, Part II”

  1. The Conservative Revolution » Blog Archive » The Tea Party Conspiracy Theory and the Real Story Says:

    […] wing bloggers and two hack writers at Playboy’s blog are alleging that there is a giant Koch Industries […]

  2. Texas Tea Parties » Blog Archive » The Tea Party Conspiracy Theory and the Real Story Says:

    […] for his listeners. It went really well, and is about 18 minutes into this podcast. Left wing bloggers and two hack writers at Playboy’s blog are alleging that there is a giant Koch Industries […]

  3. Real Grassroots Movement « Richmond Tea Party: The Blog Says:

    […] wing bloggers and two hack writers at Playboy’s blog are alleging that there is a giant Koch Industries […]

  4. spendulus Says:

    Only a fool of an intelligent Democrat would support the trillions of dollars of PorkFest now going on.

    Personally I don’t view the Tea Parties as partisian, although no doubt in some cities, they may have been organized by Republicans. So what?

    Mr. Market has spoken about his opinion of Mr. Obama’s concepts.

    We need to move forward from partisian rhetoric on the spending issues.

  5. » Santelli Barometer I&D Blog Says:

    […] back on the Playboy piece to see if it had really done its homework (see my two posts here and here). Now Glenn Reynolds and others began to take issue or debunk the Playboy piece, which was quietly […]