In this eye-opening talk Sharyl Attkisson, a veteran CBS investigative journalist, and a six time winner of Emmy awards for her work, shows how astroturf, or fake grassroots movements funded by political, corporate, or other special interests very effectively manipulate and distort media messages.
Sharyl Attkisson is an investigative journalist based in Washington D.C. She is currently writing a book entitled Stonewalled (Harper Collins), which addresses the unseen influences of corporations and special interests on the information and images the public receives every day in the news and elsewhere. For twenty years (through March 2014), Attkisson was a correspondent for CBS News.
- In 2013, she received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for her reporting on “The Business of Congress,” which included an undercover investigation into fundraising by Republican freshmen.
- She also received Emmy nominations in 2013 for Benghazi: Dying for Security and Green Energy Going Red.
- Additionally, Attkisson received a 2013 Daytime Emmy Award as part of the CBS Sunday Morning team’s entry for Outstanding Morning Program for her report: “Washington Lobbying: K-Street Behind Closed Doors.”
- In September 2012, Attkisson also received an Emmy for Oustanding Investigative Journalism for the “Gunwalker: Fast and Furious” story. She received the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting for the same story.
- Attkisson received an Investigative Emmy Award in 2009 for her exclusive investigations into TARP and the bank bailout.
- She received an Investigative Emmy Award in 2002 for her series of exclusive reports about mismanagement at the Red Cross.
Here is a summary of astroturf tactics. Once you’re aware of them, you will notice just how popular they have truly become:
- Creating of Wikipedia pages, monitored by corporations.
- Creating a social media presence, including Facebook and Twitter accounts, run by paid professionals.
- Secretly funding non-profit organizations to create third-party support and web presence.
- Search engine optimizing web pages such as blogs and third-party sites that support a specific agenda.
- Financing industry research that is deceitfully presented as independent opinion.
- Funding experts working on unrelated projects, while in reality creating paid consultants.
These methods are used to give people the impression that there is widespread support for an agenda, when, in reality, one may not exist. Astroturf tactics are also used to discredit or criticize those that disagree with certain agendas.
Here’s two examples of how “astroturfing” works in practice:
- How Big Pharma Tries to Control the Vaccine Narrative With Fake Blogs and Industry Ties
- I created a fake business and bought it an amazing online reputation (We spent less than $100 to give a completely fake business a great online reputation)