Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ellie Light only the latest episode of Axelturfing: Remembering the Anti-Palin Propaganda Campaign

Thanks to excellent detective work by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, a massive astroturfing operation involving pro-Obama letters-to-the-editor was uncovered. A mysterious individual named "Ellie Light" authored similar letters that appeared in 68 publications in 31 states and the District of Columbia, 3 national publications, a Yahoo news story and 2 foreign publications.

While questions remain as to the true identity of M(r/s). Light, one thing is certain: this isn't the first astroturfing operation orchestrated by those in or near the Obama campaign. Not by a long shot.

On 2 September 2008, I reported on an information warfare operation launched against the McCain-Palin campaign. Just hours after John McCain had selected Sarah Palin as his VP candidate, proxies for candidate Obama launched a massive astroturfing operation.

The same lengthy message -- reportedly authored by a feminist in Alaska -- was posted in hundreds of discussion boards across the Internet in a matter of hours. This type of operation, of course, would have required a significant amount of work -- prepping messages and creating pre-positioned sock-puppet accounts. The identical messages appeared in:

      • Prout Assembly
      • 09/01/2008 Topix Politics
      • World of Warcraft Forums
      • Politico Forums
      • and many...
      • ...many more.

Later that month, The Jawa Report noted that several federal election laws appeared to have been broken in a series of similar incidents and implicated David Axelrod (who else?) in the morass. Dan Riehl offered a powerful executive summary of the research:

Extensive research was conducted by the Jawa Report to determine the source of smears directed toward Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Those smears included false allegations that she belonged to a secessionist political party and that she has radical anti-American views.

Our research suggests that a subdivision of one of the largest public relations firms in the world most likely started and promulgated rumors about Sarah Palin that were known to be false. These rumors were spread in a surreptitious manner to avoid exposure.

It is also likely that the PR firm was paid by outside sources to run the smear campaign. While not conclusive, evidence suggests a link to the Barack Obama campaign. Namely:

* Evidence suggests that a YouTube video with false claims about Palin was uploaded and promoted by members of a professional PR firm.

* The family that runs the PR firm has extensive ties to the Democratic Party, the netroots, and are staunch Obama supporters.

* Evidence suggests that the firm engaged in a concerted effort to distribute the video in such a way that it would appear to have gone viral on its own. Yet this effort took place on company time.

* Evidence suggests that these distribution efforts included actions by at least one employee of the firm who is unconnected with the family running the company.

* The voice-over artist used in this supposedly amateur video is a professional.

* This same voice-over artist has worked extensively with David Axelrod's firm, which has a history of engaging in phony grassroots efforts, otherwise known as "astroturfing."

* David Axelrod is Barack Obama's chief media strategist.

* The same voice-over artist has worked directly for the Barack Obama campaign.

Using the same research tactics they've employed in tracking terrorist supporters online, the Jawa team deconstructed the professionally organized campaign of lies aimed at undermining Sarah Palin's candidacy.

Ace of Spades summarizes.

for two straight years Obama and his zealots have waged a massive propaganda war on the world to convince us all that Obama was inevitable and then, after having been elected, was massively popular. All of this was done to demoralize his opposition, and to delegitimze opposition as "fringe." And also to discourage his opposition from voicing that opposition in the first place, because if you're convinced that you're all alone in opposing Obama, you tend to shut up about it.

As Massachusetts aptly demonstrates, we're on to these disturbing tactics. And we've had enough.

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