The following video, taken last year during a training session for Tea Party activists in Nashville, is of a young man from a group called the American Majority. His name is Austin James, and, on the video, he can be seen instructing folks how they should go about waging guerilla warfare online by, among other things, poorly reviewing “liberal” books and films they’ve neither read nor seen. The American Liberty Tour, of which this session was a part, was funded by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch.
I know it’s not exactly scandalous to urge people to give bad reviews to books that they’ve never read. I do find it interesting, however, that wealthy individuals, like the Koch brothers, who have a vested interest in keeping people from, among other things, fighting for more stringent environmental protection standards, have been so damned successful in building this network of teabots to do their bidding both online and off. It’s really brilliant, and I was reminded of it today, when reading about the organized onslaught against National Public Radio in the wake of the Juan Williams firing. I was particularly struck by this sentence in the New York Times: Of the thousands of complaints that have saturated NPR in the wake of Juan Williams’s firing earlier this week, some of the most telling have been from callers describing themselves as long-time “viewers” of NPR who warn that they are going to “stop watching.”
Of course, NPR has no viewers, as it’s distributed via radio. But the teabots wouldn’t know that.
As for Williams, I don’t care for the guy, and I find it telling that he’s crawled off to join the ranks of the pseudo-journalists at FOX News, but I think that his firing was wrong. It wasn’t right when the Shirley Sherrod was forced out of her job due to a few quotes taken out of context, and it’s not right here, just because I don’t like the man. The worst part is, it’s giving the far right ammunition to go after NPR, which, like it or not, is one of the last real bastions of journalism in the United States… Here’s hoping they pull though.