by Brian Garst
“Astroturf” is one of those common refrains used by the left when they want desperately for opposing views to be discredited. The George Soros funded mouthpiece non-ironically lobbied just that charge at a new, anti-net neutrality website called NoNetBrutality.com this week.
Think Progress claimed the website was part of a “secret plan to attack net neutrality.” CNET News showed otherwise:
On its Think Progress blog, the liberal advocacy group announced it had “obtained” a PowerPoint document “which reveals how the telecom industry is orchestrating the latest campaign against Net neutrality” through a pseudo-grassroots effort. The story was echoed on Slashdot, Boing Boing, and innumerable pro-regulation blogs.
There’s just one problem with Think Progress’ claim: It’s not, well, accurate.
In a case of truth being stranger than astroturf, it turns out that the PowerPoint document was prepared as a class project for a competition in Florida last month. It cost the six students a grand total of $173.95, including $18 for clip art.
And just how secret was this nefarious plot?
Not only was the PowerPoint document presentation no secret, but it was posted publicly on the competition’s blog, along with an audio recording of the event in Miami where the student contestants presented their ideas to the judges.
The online liberal echo-chamber then picked up the false story and ran with it.
Big government regulation supporters also descended upon the social media promotion efforts of NoNetBrutality with some brutality of their own. They declared everyone who doesn’t want government involved in regulating internet speech to be “corporate shills” and otherwise engaged in ad hominem attacks. One emailer to the website even suggested that it was surprising anyone supporting “such obvious transparent moral poverty” wouldn’t want to cut their throat any time they looked in the mirror. These guys really take their government regulation seriously.
Kristen McMurray, one of the six creators of the site, knows that all too well and wasn’t surprised by the pro-regulation tactics. “Labeling me a ‘corporate shill’ avoids any real debate on net neutrality,” she said, “so I’m not surprised it degenerated into name calling.” McMurray added, “Think Progress should have practiced good journalism and fact checked before reporting on our school project.” As the social media arm of an organization that claims to want to “shape the national debate,” Think Progress has a responsibility to ensure that it does so in an accurate and honest manner. It seems like good journalism, honest debate and big government advocacy just don’t go together.