In the weeks before the 2010 mid-term elections, the Tea Party and its activities dominated the media, but there was a decided lack of discussion about exactly what the Tea Party is. Major media seemed sold on the idea that the Tea Party is one big homogenous, spontaneous grassroots uprising, but this was not the case. Apart from a single, exhaustive article in the August 30, 2010 edition of The New Yorker (aptly titled "Covert Operations,") that linked the wealthy billionaire Koch Brothers' and their corporate interests to the Tea Party, few media outlets discussed which factions of the movement were truly grassroots, which were corporate-backed, and to what extent corporations supported the "movement."
Here at PRWatch, we strove to tease out the difference between various Tea Party factions, like the GOP-backed Tea Party Express, the grassroots Tea Party Patriots and the for-profit corporation called Tea Party Nation. We found out which factions were getting the big money, who their PR operatives were, what types of PR tricks they were engaging in, and more.
Another big story about the Tea Party -- and perhaps the biggest missed story -- was about the a corporate takeover of a real grassroots movement. The Tea Party arguably started as a real grassroots movement, but was effectively taken over by wealthy corporate interests seeking a "grassroots" face to manipulate elections. PR Watch exposed Tea Party organizers Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity as corporate-backed front groups that have links to the Republican Party. We also linked their damaging anti-government rhetoric to the billionaires and corporations seeking to block regulation, torpedo consumer protection laws, and influence public policy in their favor.
In the run-up to 2012, PRWatch will continue our mission of exposing the growing corporate influence in elections, whatever forms it may take next. Stay tuned, and we'll do our best to keep you informed about the truth behind the news.