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MSNBC: Mark Ames and Yasha Levine
Broke the Koch Brothers' Takeover of America
By Mark Ames and Yasha Levine

Rick Santelli, High on Koch?This article first appeared on

Chris Matthews: “You’re up there with Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity… It’s quite a team.”
Rick Santelli (smiling and nodding): “It is quite a team!”
Hardball, MSNBC, Feb 20, 2009

Last week, CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli rocketed from being a little-known second-string correspondent to a populist hero of the disenfranchised, a 21st-century Samuel Adams, the leader and symbol of the downtrodden American masses suffering under the onslaught of 21st century socialism and big government. Santelli’s “rant” last-week calling for a “Chicago Tea Party” to protest President Obama’s plans to help distressed American homeowners rapidly spread across the blogosphere and shot right up into White House spokesman Robert Gibbs’ craw, whose smackdown during a press conference was later characterized by Santelli as “a threat” from the White House. A nationwide “tea party” grassroots Internet protest movement has sprung up seemingly spontaneously, all inspired by Santelli, with rallies planned today in cities from coast to coast to protest against Obama’s economic policies.

But was Santelli’s rant really so spontaneous? How did a minor-league TV figure, whose contract with CNBC is due this summer, get so quickly launched into a nationwide rightwing blog sensation? Why were there so many sites and organizations online and live within minutes or hours after his rant, leading to a nationwide protest just a week after his rant?

What hasn’t been reported until now is evidence linking Santelli’s “tea party” rant with some very familiar names in the Republican rightwing machine, from PR operatives who specialize in imitation-grassroots PR campaigns (called “astroturfing”) to bigwig politicians and notorious billionaire funders. As veteran Russia reporters, both of us spent years watching the Kremlin use fake grassroots movements to influence and control the political landscape. To us, the uncanny speed and direction the movement took and the players involved in promoting it had a strangely forced quality to it. If it seemed scripted, that’s because it was.

What we discovered is that Santelli’s “rant” was not at all spontaneous as his alleged fans claim, but rather it was a carefully-planned trigger for the anti-Obama campaign. In PR terms, his February 19th call for a “Chicago Tea Party” was the launch event of a carefully organized and sophisticated PR campaign, one in which Santelli served as a frontman, using the CNBC airwaves for publicity, for the some of the craziest and sleaziest rightwing oligarch clans this country has ever produced. Namely, the Koch family, the multibilllionaire owners of the largest private corporation in America, and funders of scores of rightwing thinktanks and advocacy groups, from the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine to FreedomWorks. The scion of the Koch family, Fred Koch, was a co-founder of the notorious extremist-rightwing John Birch Society.

As you read this, Big Business is pouring tens of millions of dollars into their media machines in order to destroy just about every economic campaign promise Obama has made, as reported recently in the Wall Street Journal. At stake isn’t the little guy’s fight against big government, as Santelli and his bot-supporters claim, but rather the “upper 2 percent”’s war to protect their wealth from the Obama Adminstration’s economic plans. When this Santelli “grassroots” campaign is peeled open, what’s revealed is a glimpse of what is ahead and what is bound to be a hallmark of his presidency.

Let’s go back to February 19th: Rick Santelli, live on CNBC, standing in the middle of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, launches into an attack on the just-announced $300 billion slated to stem rate of home foreclosures: “The government is promoting bad behavior! Do we really want to subsidize the losers’ mortgages?! This is America! We’re thinking of having a Chicago tea party in July, all you capitalists who want to come down to Lake Michigan, I’m gonna start organizing.”

Almost immediately, the clip and the unlikely “Chicago tea party” quote buried in the middle of the segment, zoomed across a well-worn path to headline fame in the Republican echo chamber, including red-alert headlines on Drudge.

Within hours of Santelli’s rant, a website called sprang to life. Essentially inactive until that day, it now featured a YouTube video of Santelli’s “tea party” rant and billed itself as the official home of the Chicago Tea Party. The domain was registered in August, 2008 by Zack Christenson, a dweeby Twitter Republican and producer for a popular Chicago rightwing radio host Milt Rosenberg—a familiar name to Obama campaign people. Last August, Rosenberg, who looks like Martin Short’s Irving Cohen character, caused an outcry when he interviewed Stanley Kurtz, the conservative writer who first “exposed” a personal link between Obama and former Weather Undergound leader Bill Ayers. As a result of Rosenberg’s radio interview, the Ayers story was given a major push through the Republican media echo chamber, culminating in Sarah Palin’s accusation that Obama was “palling around with terrorists.” That Rosenberg’s producer owns the “” site is already weird—but what’s even stranger is that he first bought the domain last August, right around the time of Rosenburg’s launch of the “Obama is a terrorist” campaign. It’s as if they held this “Chicago tea party” campaign in reserve, like a sleeper-site. Which is exactly what it was. was just one part of a larger network of Republican sleeper-cell-blogs set up over the course of the past few months, all of them tied to a shady rightwing advocacy group coincidentally named the “Sam Adams Alliance,” whose backers have until now been kept hidden from public. Cached google records that we discovered show that the Sam Adams Alliance took pains to scrub its deep links to the Koch family money as well as the fake-grassroots “tea party” protests going on today. All of these roads ultimately lead back to a more notorious rightwing advocacy group, FreedomWorks, a powerful PR organization headed by former Republican House Majority leader Dick Armey and funded by Koch money.

On the same day as Santelli’s rant, February 19, another site called went live. This site was registered to Eric Odom, who turned out to be a veteran Republican new media operative specializing in imitation-grassroots PR campaigns. Last summer, Odom organized a twitter-led campaign centered around to pressure Congress and Nancy Pelosi to pass the offshore oil drilling bill, something that would greatly benefit Koch Industries, a major player in oil and gas. Now, six months later, Odom’s DontGo movement was resurrected to play a central role in promoting the “tea party” movement.

Up until last month, Odom was officially listed as the “new media coordinator” for the Sam Adams Alliance, a well-funded libertarian activist organization based in Chicago that was set up only recently. Samuel Adams the historical figure was famous for inspiring and leading the Boston Tea Party—so when the PR people from the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance abruptly leave in order to run Santelli’s “Chicago Tea Party,” you know it wasn’t spontaneous. Odom certainly doesn’t want people to know about the link: his name was scrubbed from the Sam Adams Alliance website recently, strongly suggesting that they wanted to cover their tracks. Thanks to google caching, you can see the SAA’s before-after scrubbing.

Separated at Head Pubes?

Eric "The Dome" Odom

Rising Koch revolutionary Eric Odom…
and embalmed Marxist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin?

Even the Sam Adams’ January 31 announcement that Odom’s fake-grassroots group was “no longer sponsored by the Alliance” was shortly afterwards scrubbed.

But it’s the Alliance’s scrubbing of their link to Koch that is most telling. A cached page, erased on February 16, just three days before Santelli’s rant, shows that the Alliance also wanted to cover up its ties to the Koch family. The missing link was an announcement that students interested in applying for internships to the Sam Adams Alliance could also apply through the “Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program” through the Institute for Humane Studies, a Koch-funded rightwing institute designed to scout and nurture future leaders of corporate libertarian ideology. (See hi-resolution screenshots here.) The top two board directors at the Sam Adams Alliance include two figures with deep ties to Koch-funded programs: Eric O’Keefe, who previously served in Koch’s Institute for Humane Studies and the Club For Growth; and Joseph Lehman, a former communications VP at Koch’s Cato Institute.

All of these are ultimately linked up to Koch’s Freedom Works mega-beast. has drawn fire in the past for using fake grassroots internet campaigns, called “astroturfing,” to push for pet Koch projects such as privatizing social security. A New York Times investigation in 2005 revealed that a “regular single mom” paraded by Bush’s White House to advocate for privatizing social security was in fact FreedomWorks’ Iowa state director. The woman, Sandra Jacques, also fronted another Iowa fake-grassroots group called “For Our Grandchildren,” even though privatizing social security was really “For Koch And Wall Street Fat Cats.”

If you log into today, its home page features a large photo of Rick Santelli pointing at the viewer like Uncle Sam, with the words: “Are you with Rick? We Are. Click here to learn more.”

FreedomWorks, along with scores of shady front organizations which don’t have to disclose their sponsors thanks to their 501 (c)(3) status, has been at the heart of today’s supposed grassroots, nonpartisan “tea party” protests across the country, supposedly fueled by scores of websites which masquerade as amateur/spontaneous projects, but are suspiciously well-crafted and surprisingly well-written. One slick site pushing the tea parties, claims, “ is a grassroots online community created by a few friends who were outraged by the bailouts. So we gathered some talent and money and built this site. Please tell your friends, and if you have suggestions for improving it, please let us know. Respectfully, Evan and Duncan.” But funny enough, these regular guys are offering a $27,000 prize for an “anti-bailout video competition.” Who are Evan and Duncan? Do they even really exist?

Even Facebook pages dedicated to a specific city “tea party” events, supposedly written by people connected only by a common emotion, obviously conformed to the same style. It was as if they were part of a multi-pronged advertising campaign planned out by a professional PR company. Yet, on the surface, they pretended to have no connection. The various sites set up their own Twitter feeds and Facebook pages dedicated to the Chicago Tea Party movement. And all of them linked to one another, using it as evidence that a decentralized, viral movement was already afoot. It wasn’t about partisanship; it was about real emotions coming straight from real people.

While it’s clear what is at stake for the Koch oligarch clan and their corporate and political allies—fighting to keep the hundreds of billions in surplus profits they’ve earned thanks to pro-rich economic policies over the past 30 years—what’s a little less obvious is Santelli’s link to all this. Why would he (and CNBC) risk their credibility, such as it is, as journalists dispensing financial information in order to act as PR fronts for a partisan campaign?

As noted above, Santelli’s contract with CNBC runs out in a few months. His 10 years with the network haven’t been remarkable, and he’ll enter a brutal downsizing media job market. Thanks to the “tea party” campaign, as the article notes, Santelli’s value has suddenly soared. If you look at the scores of blogs and fake-commenters on blogs (for example, Daily Blog, a slick new blog launched in January which is also based in Chicago) all puff up Santelli like he’s the greatest journalist in America, and the greatest hero known to mankind. Daily Bail, like so much of this “tea party” machine, is “headquartered nearby” to Santelli, that is, in Chicago. With Odom, the Sam Adams Alliance, and the whole “tea party” nexus: “Rick, this message is to you. You are a true American hero and there are no words to describe what you did today except your own.  Headquartered nearby, we will be helping the organization in whatever way possible.”

It’s not difficult to imagine how Santelli hooked up with this crowd. A self-described “Ayn Rand-er,” one of Santelli’s colleagues at CNBC, Lawrence Kudlow, played a major role in both FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth.

So today’s protests show that the corporate war is on, and this is how they’ll fight it: hiding behind “objective” journalists and “grassroots” new media movements. Because in these times, if you want to push for policies that help the super-wealthy, you better do everything you can to make it seem like it’s “the people” who are “spontaneously” fighting your fight. As a 19th century slave management manual wrote, “The master should make it his business to show his slaves, that the advancement of his individual interest, is at the same time an advancement of theirs. Once they feel this, it will require little compulsion to make them act as becomes them.” (Southern Agriculturalist IX, 1836.) The question now is, will they get away with it, and will the rest of America advance the interests of Koch, Santelli, and the rest of the masters?

This article first appeared on on Feb. 27, 2009.





Add your own

  • 1. Chema Pino Suarez  |  February 27th, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    No surprise this guy was in bed with corporate goons from the start.

  • 2. Rothbardian  |  February 27th, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    In the Libertarian community, the network of think tanks and organizations sponsored by the Kochs is derisively called the Kochtopus.

    They destroyed the one man they had that really believed in freedom and ran him out of town.

  • 3. JFreshInEffect!  |  February 27th, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    This is great info. I just hope that these thieves don’t help incite right wing radicals to do violence that they are very capable of. Because when the torches and pitchforks come out we’ll all be on the list. As a moderate with both liberal and conservative views(mostly conservatives), I always felt the it would be the extreme right who would end our nation. Fascism is an auto immune response to internal threats to the capitalist system.

  • 4. aleke  |  February 27th, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    jesus, bad news. haha the more information that comes to light the more gloomy the outlook.

  • 5. MR WILLIAMS  |  February 27th, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    I don’t get the last point. Isn’t astroturfing/virtual politics a different concept than tricking serfs to identify with Bill Gates? You could try to do it with phony populist propaganda, I guess…

  • 6. Pablito  |  February 27th, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Ahh yes, the evil and sinister Reason Magazine.

  • 7. Harv  |  February 27th, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    these gimmicks have become obsolete – no one gives a shit anymore
    US mainstream media has discredted itself past the point of no return – only fags and retards believe what they spew these days

  • 8. head wiper  |  February 28th, 2009 at 12:41 am

    The minute I first saw the Santelli shit I though “staged!”

  • 9. Josh McKague  |  February 28th, 2009 at 6:59 am

    Who cares if it was staged. The reason the grassroots movement spread so quickly was the undeniable outrage the American people have for this joke of a government.

    I could stage a rant saying how our government should do even more and install government controlled thermostats in everyone’s house like they did in the soviet union. If I staged the same rant do you think that a movement would break out? No because that is not what the American people want!

    I love how the left gets so scared when the American people genuinely speak what they think. Because it is no where near their socialistic views.

  • 10. Kevin  |  February 28th, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Here in Cedar Rapids some people were planning to dump tea into the river as a protest against a local option tax hike. They were told they couldn’t because tea’s a pollutant, and I think they called off the protest. Russians in Vladivostok, meanwhile, are beaten to shit by the OMON and they still protest, proving again there are some people in the world who truly deserve and cherish democracy more than us.

  • 11. J Moss  |  February 28th, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Those evil wing-nuts! How dare they use funding and organization? This is nothing at all like George Soros and!

    I’m surprised you didn’t try to tie Karl Rove into all this.

  • 12. Sara  |  February 28th, 2009 at 11:12 am

    @Josh: So you’re willing to overlook the ultrarich staging a “spontaneous” protest because you feel the people are really behind the cause? How do you explain the utter failure of it to gain any traction outside the 30%~ of Limbaugh listeners? The attendance nationwide was laughable. There’s always going to be a tiny subset of people who will believe any hogwash they’re told – including, apparently, that policies that benefit the ultrarich are good for the average American. Its right up there with Bigfoot anymore Josh, sorry.

  • 13. Terry the Traitor  |  February 28th, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Sure, some capitalists might be afraid of Obama and his plans, but only because he isn’t their agent. Instead, Obama is the agent of Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, etc.

    J.P. Morgan would fear a Rockefeller puppet leader, and vise-verse, but that doesn’t change the fact that Obama is not going to be fundamentally changing the power structure here. If anything, he might sweep some more crumbs to the poor to make them complacent while he allows Wall St to loot the treasury. Perhaps he will institute more controls over commerce to swing the power pendulum closer towards Washington – but the same elites will still be in charge.

  • 14. Julie Laumann  |  February 28th, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Josh wrote:

    >Who cares if it was staged. The reason the >grassroots movement spread so quickly was >the undeniable outrage the American people >have for this joke of a government.

    Apparently some people don’t understand what “grassroots” means. It’s a spontaneous movement based on individual initiative, NOT well-capitalized organizations and media outlets.

    The painful reality is that even the coordinated efforts of Michelle Malkin, American Spectator, Heartland Institute, etc. – along with Santelli’s bully pulpit on CNBC and generous coverage by the MSM – couldn’t get more than a few hundred people to show up. (And that includes the Republican operatives who were flown in for the “grassroots” events.)

    Some “movement” you’ve got there.

    The American people DID speak what they think – it’s called an election. Get over it.

  • 15. Kudzu35  |  February 28th, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    You guys are hilarious. The whole idea for the nationwide Chicago Tea Party sprung up practically over night. It was organized from the start and ran by non-professional political/community organizers who would seek the help and crowds of several conservative groups. It wasn’t until late in the week that bigger groups became involved in the process of organizing and garner politician support.

    Thanks for playing and trying to downplay the role of people like myself and others in this but sadly you fail to realize the truth in the matter. Thank you, come again

  • 16. Mister Mxyzptlk  |  February 28th, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    The truth is liberals only think things like free speech and political protest are good when it’s liberals who are doing the speaking or protesting. When they are the ones being protested and spoke against suddenly this whole First Amendment is a dirty nasty thing and the minority party needs to shut up and take their whuppins like men.

  • 17. aleke  |  February 28th, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    haha these motherfuckers coming on here and pretending that you didn’t just carry out a broad investigation based on facts, multiple sources, and plenty of evidence.

  • 18. mishu  |  February 28th, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Yawn. Whining about some uber rich guy backing some activist organizations? I got two words: George Soros.

  • 19. planetjars  |  February 28th, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    I enjoyed the knock on the dweeby republican twitter user, it was a great pleasure for me to read it on this fine, quality blog

  • 20. Mister Mxyzptlk  |  February 28th, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Who cares if they carefully researched every little detail or if they got an e-mail from telling them what to say. The point is this kind of organizing is par for the course in modern politics no matter which brand of politician you are dealing with. The idea that there should be spontaneous displays of righteous indignation by common folks is a fantasy. Common folks are too busy trying to keep their homes and jobs to be indignificated in public.

  • 21. Julie Laumann  |  February 28th, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Kudzu35, if this “sprung up practically overnight” as you claim, then how do you explain the August 2008 domain name purchase by a Republican media figure?

    And there’s a delicious irony in seeing the term “community organizer” used in regard to this highly orchestrated scheme, after Sarah Palin used it as a profanity against now-President Obama. (Remember: poor “community”=bad; rich “community”=good.)

    Mister Mxyzptlk, we liberals LOVE free speech. Millions of us turned out across the U.S. to protest the war (500,000 in NY alone), yet people like you pretended we didn’t exist. So forgive us if we ignore the escapades of a few hundred Republican activists.

  • 22. Steve M  |  February 28th, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Exile has fallen from occasionally publishing interesting articles into a sub-democratic-underground fiesta. ‘spathetic. Wheres the righteous hate for Obama now he’s living up to his promises to do everything Bush did, only more so?

  • 23. Wisco  |  February 28th, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Anyone reading this article owes it to themselves to find out what the Koch family is all about. They care about one thing: permanently establishing their family wealth- not just a comfortable wealth of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, but billions and billions of dollars. Their main enemy is the estate tax, a tax on massive fortunes like the Koch estate which was designed to ensure that America never became a plutocratic oligarchy. So, it’s 300 million Americans or one family. Which side are you on?

  • 24. Mister Mxyzptlk  |  March 1st, 2009 at 6:17 am

    Julie, the Great Black Hope is about to send MORE troops into Afghanistan. His Attorney General has come back from Gitmo and given them a gold star. He’s kept the same idiot at Sec-Def from the last regime and the Iraq Occupation is still going full steam.

    Exactly when are you going to start protesting? Come to think of it, where were your protesters when Clinton was flexing the military muscle across the world? Your silence in the face of left wing injustice is deafening.

  • 25. Sean C.  |  March 1st, 2009 at 11:53 am

    It’s great that the trolls here keep intentionally missing the point. The point is not that it’s inherently wrong wealthy people to create political organizations. They can do that all they want. The point is that the right is pretending that they have created an earthquake of opposition to Obama and his economic plans when really all they can muster up is a few hundred protesters, a few rich donors, and the most transparent astroturf operation in recent history.

    You guys are like the “9/11 truthers” with your delusions of granduer and “I’m fighting for my stolen country” fantasies. Please.

    Oh and by the way, here’s the fruits of your revolution, losers:

  • 26. Mister Mxyzptlk  |  March 1st, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Sean, His Almighty Blackness is still in the honeymoon phase of his regime. If you’ll recall even George Bush Jr had good ratings his first few months. Once the new president smell wears off his numbers will drop faster than new home starts.

    Of course, by the time people get good and angry over his failures someone else will be sitting in the hot seat and everyone will shift places. You lefties will be the ones complaining about the failures of the majority party and the righties will be the ones making lame excuses for the failures of their party. Ah, the circle of life!

  • 27. aleke  |  March 1st, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    hahaha “Almighty Blackness,” your true colors shine.

  • 28. Mister Mxyzptlk  |  March 1st, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Playing the race card so soon Aleke? Is your position so weak that you have to pull that crap already. For shame, you really should be saving the race thing for half way through his term when the approval ratings are in the toilet and you need to pull out all the stops to save his legacy.

  • 29. DocAmazing  |  March 1st, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Wait wait wait. You wrote the bit about “almighty blackness”; aleke called you on it, and aleke’s playing the race card?


  • 30. GetTheTruth  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 3:05 am

    To Mark Ames and Yasha Levine,

    Zack Christenson may have purchased the domain as part of activities by the Ron Paul movement. This would mean that he isn’t part of official Republican party “operations”. 1.2 million people voted for Ron Paul in the primaries which is proof that there are a lot of Ron Paul Republicans out there. A lot of them are active within the Republican party and they aren’t always very well-liked by the party leadership.

    I think there is reason to believe that Zack Christenson purchased the domain name for something else for several reasons.

    For one, there was a Tea Party movement in December 2007 in support of the Ron Paul campaign:

    Second, think about the creation of Why was this website created when there was ALREADY Also notice how is a COMPLETE AND OBVIOUS IMITATION of There is nothing on both sites except a few words at the left and a youtube video of Rick Santelli’s rant on the right. This shows that the mainstream Republicans (ie – not Ron Paul people) don’t know how to create their own grassroots website so they just copy from the REAL people. As I stated earlier, the Ron Paul people are not very well liked by the Republican party leadership, so one motive for creating their own site is to make sure the Ron Paul people aren’t controlling any of the party’s websites.

    Just a thought. Anyone else have any thought on this?

  • 31. aleke  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 3:07 am

    hahah “the race card.” what a bizarre cultural artifact that is completely devoid of logic or meaning. what are we playing, the mid-20th Century American Racial Politics game? your “modern“ explicit and implicit attitudes shoot off into the stratosphere and seem to intersect somewhere at the “racialist quiz-master” and “spent college weekends listening to talk radio” singularity.

    next you’re going to make a cryptic reference to the one-drop rule, or suffer another nebulous rhetorical fallacy. leave your weird strain of rambling hate on the comments section of some slimy newsweekly. or better yet, heave ho to the rush limbaugh forum

  • 32. aleke  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 3:14 am

    Oh But Look! There ! Brave Soldier For Truth Mister Mxyzptlk Sits Upon His Golden Centrist Throne !

    We are saved! Finally a glorious Man rises from the ranks of the twin political powers. behold! Now we can truly hear the thunderous voice of reason & truth couched in bizarre and dated racist language! Regale in the glorious objectivity of taking a stand, in the exact center between the Vile on the one hand and the Indefensible on the other!

  • 33. STepper  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 5:39 am

    Staged? Of course. Part of a vast right wing conspiracy. Of course not.

    As we have seen, the Internet can move people and bloggers with lightning speed. That’s what happened here. Behold the power of the Web. For good or bad. Here for bad.

    You may now adjust your aluminum foil hats.

  • 34. mountainaires  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 5:49 am

    Santelli has never made any secret of his libertarian views; and certainly, anyone who thinks he’s not a free-trader and a pro-business advocate has been napping. The simple truth is, this paranoid “exposé” is–itself–an attempt to distract from the fact that Obama’s economic team is–itself–aligned with Wall Street. So, tea parties or not, Koch family or not, Santelli or not, the real truth is liberals are the ones being taken in here–by an administration that has Wall Street’s interests at heart, not yours.

  • 35. Mister Mxyzptlk  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 6:09 am

    I hate to break this to you but Obama’s own team has refered to him a “black” so it’s probably ok to call him black. Or is this one of those things where only liberals are idologicaly pure enough to use the term “black” without it being some kind of horrific insult?

  • 36. karlub  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 8:20 am

    There’s a URL above to a grassroots, local conservative action group still waiting for a check from Koch.

    Personally, I think the conspiracy theorists amongst us lose track of the real point: Yes, I am sure influential people try and seed donations to various groups so they do good work, and they will select groups with messages and instincts they like.

    This happens on the left and the right. The availability and abundance of that money is merely a reflection of political sentiments more broadly. So does CATO, or that evil conpiratorial Reason, or even National Review depend on donations of rich people? Sure. And so do lots of leftist organizations. And so to symphony orchestras and universitites. What’s your point?

    Now, some may squeel “But the right has all the money!”

    Well, that just isn’t true. Read the recent National Review, which has a very well-researched piece about how Wall St. shifted to the Dems a few years ago, and how that might ulitmately be better for the right. That piece does a much better job of actually connecting dots than this amalgamation of innuendo.

    Again, the point is simply this: You can pay to throw a tea party, or a healthcare house party, but nobody is yet paying people to show up, or spend time online, or volunteer for particular candidates.

    None of it is nearly as fishy as people like this journalist make it seem. It is how politics have worked in perpetuity.

    Now if you want to make an arguement about delinking private donations from campaigns, that’s something else entirely. And, as an aside, if you did do this you would have way more of what we are talking about here.

  • 37. DocAmazing  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    The Democratic Party is “the left”? Dude, your grasp of politics is kinda skewed. Compare the policians Wall Street finances with the think-tanks paid for by Olin, Scaife and Koch. This isn’t conspiracy theory; it’s simple awareness of funding sources–basic journalism. That one might call it “conspiracy theory” indicates how badly discourse has degraded under unregulated corporate ownership of the major media.

  • 38. DocAmazing  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Better yet, Google “Overton window”.

  • 39. Powkat  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    I researched a local organization about 5 years ago and found Koch behind it. I put together all my documentation and links and sent it to the local newspaper author who had written that the ‘leader’ of the local group had no published address; I included the address he said he couldn’t find, added my address and phone number and waited … and waited … nothing else was ever written. I still don’t know if they didn’t care or were bought off. The local guy is still around, but he is now prominent in the Republican party. Guess he just had to wait for the party to move all the way to Crazyland.

  • 40. Duckula  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Tea Party? Sounds more like they’re trying to Tea-bag the sheep.

    I guess that’s one way to keep them blind though.

  • 41. Balki  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    So first the exile whines because Americans don’t protest and burn down small businesses like their Russian counterparts (“waaa…waaaa…Americans are all fat sheeple”) then they whine when they do protest.

  • 42. Kltpzyxm  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Mr. M–

    Can the false piety. There’s a world of difference in calling the president a black man and calling him “His Almighty Blackness.”

    But you know that, didn’t you?

    It never ceases to amaze me how ostensibly grown people take such ready refuge under childish strawmen; when intentionally hostile and racist remarks are challenged, the utterer of those remarks cries victimization.

  • 43. Mister Mxyzptlk  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Seriously, I wish I was black. Actually, I wish I was a black woman. Sometimes I dress up as one. Does that make me weird?

  • 44. LatexSolarBeef  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Playboy pulled the piece from their site. What’s up with that?

  • 45. LatexSolarBeef  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    While I’m posing loaded questions. WTF is the deal with the new “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” regime?

  • 46. Kevin  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    I love watching the angry left pretend to not give a damn about the first Tea Party. They’re strangely vocal about their apathy.

  • 47. Robert  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    What is interesting is that even stumbleupon was used in the right wing propaganda campaign. That skank bitch from ebay flooded stumbles with right wing web sites and B$ paid to be right wing stumblers. It was very annoying to keep getting crappy variations on a theme B$ web sites. This article certainly helps to explain why it happened.

  • 48. Jack  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 12:10 am


    I was just thinking, all of this past week on hearing about the “Tea Parties”: It takes a lot of Big Money to set off the Right kind of populist revolt.

    But then, we’ve been living in the era of corporate flackery (and goonery) for many decades now. As fish in water, it rarely shocks us even with its excesses.

  • 49. wengler  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 2:40 am

    Have fun marching for a flat tax!

    When you are at it please get rid of overtime and minimum wage! Everyone knows how much the “American people” hate those socialist hindrances to big business.

    Frankly if I were a bought and paid for tool of corporate America this would be a very difficult line to weave at this point. There is real anger out there about giving anymore money to the banks. But as a corporate whore you have to like those big toxic banks because they pay your bills.

    So you go after Obama’s jobs program? Really? You are going to start ripping on a jobs program when people are losing their private sector jobs left and right? Or how about that evil assistance to the states?

    If you think everyone thinks that funding unemployment insurance and giving larger healthcare vouchers under COBRA are the greatest ills in the country, then you might want to talk to people other than yourself. You might be surprised.

  • 50. Mister Mxyzptlk  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Again, if you don’t like what I have to say you then that makes you and everyone else I’ve ever met, plus my parents. I guess that’s one way of keeping idiots like me in line. So much for free speech. Waaaaahhhhhhh!!!! I want my mommie!!!

  • 51. karlub  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Well, the original sources for this meme have pulled the piece. Acknowledgement of hackery, or proof of the power of the Koch star chamber?

    As I’m still waiting for my check, I’ll vote for the latter.

    But this meme will live, anyway. Just like flushed Korans, and how Ashcroft didn’t want people to see lady Justice’s boobies at a press conference.

    That, friends, is how disinformation fueled by “useful idiots” really works. That is straight from the Stalinist playbook. Hopefully we will all be aware of it in the future.

    Thanks to the host, by the way. There’s some useful information, here.

  • 52. cudmaster  |  March 4th, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Honestly I didn’t read very much of this, I kind of caught the tone when you actually decided that what the man said was not valid as he was NOT a celebrity already before he said it.

    The problem is celebrity, the heroes are the little unknown people working, carrying both the poor and elitist snobs like the author here on our backs both ways uphill through red tape.

    The Right in this nation is NOT a bunch of violent fascists, we are freedom loving small government constitutionalists.

    We DO NOT want the government to control ANYTHING, let alone EVERYTHING.

    Obama and his goons are the fascists, they are the ones that seek to silence or demonize any opposition.

    If the torches and pitchforks come out, I assure you the only institutions that will suffer our wrath are those of government…

    but it won’t come to that.

    People are waking up, and so long as we are still free to vote, the 2010, and 2012 elections will be a landslide for conservatives.

    Whether the GOP will be part of that charge or not remains to be seen.

  • 53. tanarg  |  March 4th, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    And ACORN wasn’t “staged”? Grassroots doesn’t mean unorganized.

    “Obama and his goons are the fascists.” No truer words have been said.

  • 54. jabuhrer  |  March 5th, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    It’s pronounced “coke,” not “cock” or “kotch.”

    Thank you for exposing these libertarian goons for what they really are: hyperactive republican ultra elite robber barons masquerading as rebels. They truly are evil.

  • 55. JP  |  March 8th, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Your article would come across a lot better if you didn’t take every opportunity to hurl insults at the subjects. It goes from being a decent piece of investigation to a typical partisan hit piece. Next time, keep the insulting adjectives to yourself and just present your view.

  • 56. Fastidious  |  March 23rd, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Hello there,

    I’m new to your site, so I do hope that you’ll share my post.

    “The domain was registered in August, 2008 by Zack Christenson, a dweeby Twitter Republican and producer for a popular Chicago rightwing radio host Milt Rosenberg—a familiar name to Obama campaign people”

    Is there anyway that I could verify this? All I have to go on is your good will here… Can you provide a screen-shot or something that shows how you know this?

    “Even Facebook pages dedicated to a specific city “tea party” events, supposedly written by people connected only by a common emotion, obviously conformed to the same style. It was as if they were part of a multi-pronged advertising campaign planned out by a professional PR company.”

    Again, it would be very easy for you to support this claim. Can you point to specific examples of maybe eight to ten different Facebook pages that were a part of the original movement back in February?

    And I have to agree with JP above: “Your article would come across a lot better if you didn’t take every opportunity to hurl insults at the subjects. It goes from being a decent piece of investigation to a typical partisan hit piece. Next time, keep the insulting adjectives to yourself and just present your view.” (And this could be because I’m new to your site.) It’s too bad your poor taste in ad hominem attacks undermines your “journalism.”

    Also, have you considered investigating folks like George Soros or Al Gore? The source of their considerable wealth is quite questionable. And have you considered investigating how groups like (funded by Soros) coordinate faux-grassroots movements?


  • 57. sr  |  April 15th, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    @ 56

  • 58. Frank McG  |  April 21st, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    “The truth is liberals only think things like free speech and political protest are good when it’s liberals who are doing the speaking or protesting. When they are the ones being protested and spoke against suddenly this whole First Amendment is a dirty nasty thing and the minority party needs to shut up and take their whuppins like men.”

    Show me one registered Democrat that has ever uttered “love it or leave it”.

    Which end of the political spectrum is always attacking the ACLU’s outrageous stance on those dirty liberal beliefs like “bill of rights”?

  • 59. Frank McG  |  April 21st, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    Somewhat related:

    I predicted almost 10 years back that consumer product review magazines would be rendered obsolete. Who would trust those paid off hacks when you could get totally objective views from your fellow consumers on internet message boards and forums?

    Then I realized a couple years later that I was both right and wrong. The paid off hacks would still be there, just as phony online identities posing as fellow consumers instead of the obvious professional magazine reviewer.

    The nature of propaganda and marketing never changes, it just get slicker.

  • 60. john smith  |  April 24th, 2009 at 9:40 am


  • 61. john smith  |  April 24th, 2009 at 9:50 am

    thanks for the info it bolsters me as an anti-osamabama American that our side has much money to counteract the illegally gotten riches of megalomaniac jorge sorrows

  • 62. john smith  |  April 24th, 2009 at 10:13 am

    spent the last few hours masturbating as usual, wishing i was either ames or levine…but here i am on the comments section. ah well. back to giving myself indian burns. good job, guys! you really kick ass, i really screwed up in life by taking the sad turn that i did.

  • 63. dresden  |  May 3rd, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Sleeper-cell-blogs?????? You’re kidding, right? I love how the left is now trying to paint any opposition on the right as a terroristic threat or an instigation to violence. Let’s see…who should we fear more when it comes to our First Amendment rights being violated or taken away completely? All you have to do is read this story, or any number of left-wing blogs, and the answer is very clear. Btw…I am independent of two-party affiliation, and always will be. God forbid that a majority of the American people fall prey to the zealots on the left or the right.

    And another btw to the lefty who wrote this story…ever hear of George Soros? Is he any better than the Koch family that you try so hard to demonize? Does the Koch family have First Amendment rights just like Soros does? Huh????????????? Or maybe because they differ from your elitist liberal dogma they should be silenced. I’d like to take the Constitution and feed it to you with hot sauce on it. Then maybe that burning feeling in your mouth would help you understand why it exists. It was written to protect us from people like you! If someone wants to start a website and protest something/anything, then that’s their business! If you don’t like it, then move to Venezuela…Hugo would love to have you!

  • 64. aleke  |  May 13th, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Hahah oh look dresdendoll is going for the full Blog Comment assault! Those objectivist internet squad dollars must be pouring in! Maybe it’ll cover some of the loses in that portfolio!

  • 65. Daoc Platinum  |  November 6th, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    just so so,right?

  • 66. Beloved  |  March 28th, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Hi, I’m Mrs. Santelli. I gargle his nutsack.

  • 67. Spike  |  April 14th, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    If you two were reporting from Russia, I now suspect what I learned about Russia from the “news” was wrong! THANKS! Where were you during the campaign? What did you report? Nothing about Obama’s true beliefs. You let us down. You are not reporters. You are cheerleaders. Put your skirts back on. You’re unspeakable.

  • 68. Alex  |  May 30th, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Funny the difference a year makes. 🙂

  • 69. siptheriver  |  January 7th, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    You (the author) misused the term “scion.”

    Scion is an heir or descendant — offspring, progeny, a *young* member of a clan… you probably meant “patriarch” or something similar.

  • 70. subbeast  |  January 26th, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Congrats to comment number 3 – prophetic.

  • 71. LB  |  June 9th, 2012 at 9:54 am

    That is, what in most highly intellectual and freedom oriented circles is known as a crock of sh*t.

  • 72. plus ca change  |  October 21st, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Why didn’t you look for a Russia connection? As you say, these are textbook Russian tactics. Their extreme right wing politics are in line with the oligarch-and-siloviki Russian regime. Anti-immigrant, “we will rise from our knees”, oil and gas.
    Romney has ties to Russia via his work at Bain.

  • 73. bptr  |  December 24th, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Could Mister Mxyzptlk be any dumber??

    Turn off the FOX LIES

  • 74. bptr  |  December 24th, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I love how “Conservatives” ALWAYS miss the point of every article.

  • 75. R Corbin  |  February 27th, 2015 at 7:20 am

    I watch CNBC regularly, but never knew people paid any attention to Screamin Gloom & Doom, Sky Is Falling, Silly Santeli.

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