At least 21 newspapers across the United States ran identical letters to the editor condemning Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, all with different signatures, leading to claims of “astroturfing” being committed by Democrat-leaning groups. (And by “claims,” read “conclusions.”)
According to the U.K. Daily Mail, the letters ran last week in papers from California to Massachusetts and points in between.
“Brett Kavanaugh is the wrong choice to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court,” the form letter reads.
“If he is confirmed to the Supreme Court, everything that we hold dear as a nation will be at stake. From protecting a woman’s right to choose to dismantling The Affordable Care Act, Judge Kavanaugh could be the swing vote that takes away our rights.
“His lifetime appointment would also mean he could also cement the Citizens United decision for decades, giving corporate special interests and mega-donors with extreme agendas even more influence in our democracy,” it continues.
“It’s time to take the for-sale sign off our democracy. The Senate should not vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.”
The letter is signed by 21 different “individuals.”
The papers affected, according to the Daily Wire, are:
The Washington Times, the Boston Herald, The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio), the Dallas Morning News, the San Antonio Express-News, The Grand Junction Sentinel (Colorado), The Wilmington News Journal (Delaware), the Coeur d’Alene Press (Idaho), The Forum (Fargo, North Dakota), the Beaumont Enterprise (Texas), the Santa Monica Daily Press (California), The Union Democrat (Sonora, California), the Daily News (Newburyport, Massachusetts),
The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Massachusetts), the Daily Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, Massachusetts), The Times Herald-Record (Middletown, New York), the Daily Reflector (Greenville, North Carolina), The Express Times (Easton, Pennsylvania), the Republican Herald (Pottsville, Pennsylvania), The Herald-Zeitung (Brownsville, Texas) and the Martinsville Bulletin (Virginia).
According to the Daily Mail, Richard Lodge, editor of The Eagle-Tribune, said he discovered it when the woman whose name appeared on the letter called him and “said she didn’t send it.”
Lodge said the woman had been contacted by an anti-Kavanaugh activist in the days before the letter was sent. He noted the likelihood “that person or group used it to sign her name and send this astroturf letter to my paper … I got duped, which is embarrassing and frustrating.”
The first publication to spot the identical letters was Quin Hillyer at Liberty Headlines, a blog. Hillyer, who is also a contributing editor at National Review Online, wrote that the “rather transparent astroturfing shows that the Leftist intensity against Kavanaugh is not naturally widespread, but instead is manufactured by paid agents.”
The most obvious culprit would probably be MoveOn.org, but they denied involvement.
“While millions of MoveOn members oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, the organization did not generate these letters to the editor,” a spokesman from the organization said after the Daily Mail published its story on the phenomenon.
Another popular culprit, the group Protect Our Care, said that they didn’t send either.
DemandJustice, a group run by former Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon that has also organized against Kavanaugh’s nomination, similarly claimed it wasn’t involved.
“We have no involvement in this,” Fallon said.
Of course, that’s what you’d expect them to say, and it’s unlikely anyone would ever be caught for this. And even then, there’s always plausible deniability: Fire a couple of low-level volunteers, claim you knew nothing about it, move on. (Dot org.)
That being said, unless this is the most amazing coincidence in the history of humanity or the most impressive false-flag ever — and I highly doubt either one of those — this is one of the most ridiculous astroturfing gambits I’ve seen in quite some time.
It’s also one of the most useless. Letters to the editor, in the age of Twitter and Facebook, are about as obsolete a form of public protest on a national issue as the DC-3 is as an airliner. I mean, sure, they’re there. In a bygone era, they may have meant something. But in what context would they actually move people in a way that would affect Kavanaugh’s nomination in the slightest?
It’s clear that all 21 people didn’t write identical letters. What isn’t clear is whether 21 people actually cared about them.
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