Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Money and Politics

TPM reports that politicians returning to their districts this break have for the most part been spared the angry crowds that drew so much attention last summer.  One factor that may account for the diminished size of these protests is the lack of financial support for protest organizers.  Now that Congress passed health care reform, organizers may see less reason to create the appearance of widespread popular opposition.  Thus, while the media last year largely accepted grass roots anger at face value, what went under-reported was the amount of corporate sponsorship that brought these protesters to Congressional Town Halls. (This is not to say that some genuine anger about the Obama administration's proposed reforms did not exist; only that some powerful monied interests had an interest in fanning the flames of that anger.)

It makes you wonder:  How much of what we see on TV is real, and how much is a made-for-TV movie?  How much is public opinion influenced by carefully-orchestrated events?  How much apparently grassroots activity is actually astroturf?  Will news shows stop falling for this stuff, or does their need for ratings compel them to inflate the importance of small numbers of noisy protesters?  And when will people learn to distrust pretty much everything they see on the news?

In other news, Meg Whitman just contributed another $20 million from her own personal fortune to her gubernatorial campaign.  She is leading by large margins in the polls against other Republican candidates, and neck-and-neck with presumed Democratic opponent Jerry Brown.

(Frank Morgan plays the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz.)

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