Fake "grassroots" groups have started springing up like toadstools after a rain, and this time they're coming at us from every angle: they're on TV, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube: "Americans for Prosperity," "FACES of Coal, "The "Coalition to Protect Patients' Rights," "Americans Against Food Taxes," the "60 Plus Association," "Citizens for Better Medicare," "Patients First" ... It's making our heads spin! Issues affecting some of the country's biggest industries, like health insurance reform, a proposal to tax sodas and sugary drinks, and the FDA's possible reconsideration of the plastic additive Bisphenol A, have boosted corporate astroturfing up to a dizzying pace. With all these corporate fronts coming out of the woodwork, how can citizens tell true grassroots organizations from corporate fronts operated by highly-paid PR and lobbying firms? Here are some tips to help readers spot this kind of big-business hanky-panky.
Weber Shandwick UK counts among its clients Viking Energy, a company "seeking to build a 153-turbine wind farm in the Shetlands." But the PR firm's chair of public affairs, Jonathan McLeod, recently launched an anti-wind power campaign, using his Weber Shandwick email address.
There's a "crazy quilt of about 140 businesses and organizations that jumped into the climate change debate on Capitol Hill in the first quarter of this year," reports Marianne Lavelle.
We must destroy the environment in order to save it, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's new campaign against government oversight and what it calls "green tape." "We cannot mandate excessive reductions in greenhouse gases, fuel our future and apply green technologies if we don't address the green tape, excessive permitting requirements, and activist opposition," complained Chamber vice-president for environment, technology and regulator affairs William Kovacs.