National Media Tries to Discredit Lockdown Protests Just Like They Tried to Discredit the Tea Party

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
AP featured image
A woman holds a sign as she attends a rally outside the Missouri Capitol to protests stay-at-home orders put into place due to the COVID-19 outbreak Tuesday, April 21, 2020, in Jefferson City, Mo. Several hundred people attended the rally to protest the restrictions and urge the reopening of businesses closed in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

There is virtually no doubt whatsoever that there is a strong and grassroots revolt brewing against the mindless constraints being imposed upon both people and commerce by a vile alliance of academics, public health officials who see themselves as both prophet and king, and a slobbering posse of Karens who serve as their enforcers. For the sake of combating a threat that doesn’t appear to be much of a threat the more we know about it, we have forfeited a generation’s worth of GDP, burned down family finances, and saddled our posterity with a massive mountain of unnecessary debt.

This coming rebellion is striking fear on the left because it threatens to upset a lot of apple carts. The whole enterprise of modeling has so beclowned itself and its practitioners, it is hard to believe that the climate change debate will ever again be the same. We have experienced Michael “the Jerry Sandusky of Climate Change” Mann’s infamous Hockey Stick in real-time in the outlandishly bullsh** products of the Imperial College and the nutters at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). Their only course of action is to attempt to discredit the rebellion before it reaches critical mass. The fear is so great that Facebook has decided that it will ban Facebook announcements for protests when the protests are against government regulations because your freedom doesn’t matter but Facebook has to keep its governmental patrons happy. (READ Facebook Cooperates With States In Shutting Down Political Protests and Crushing Dissent Against Social Distancing Regulations.)

A little earlier in the week, the Washington Post took the first stab at it in an article titled Pro-gun activists using Facebook groups to push anti-quarantine protests;


A trio of far-right, pro-gun provocateurs is behind some of the largest Facebook groups calling for anti-quarantine protests around the country, offering the latest illustration that some seemingly organic demonstrations are being engineered by a network of conservative activists.

The Facebook groups target Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, and they appear to be the work of Ben Dorr, the political director of a group called “Minnesota Gun Rights,” and his siblings, Christopher and Aaron. By Sunday, the groups had roughly 200,000 members combined, and they continued to expand quickly, days after President Trump endorsed such protests by suggesting citizens should “liberate” their states.

The online activity instigated by the brothers helps cement the impression that opposition to the restrictions is more widespread than polling suggests. Nearly 70 percent of Republicans said they supported a national stay-at-home order, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. Ninety-five percent of Democrats backed such a measure in the survey.

The message here is that the protests aren’t real, they are a magnificent Kristol-esque grift put on by a small number of people for personal enrichment.

The follow up was The anti-quarantine protests seem spontaneous. But behind the scenes, a powerful network is helping.

The ads on Facebook sounded populist and passionate: “The people are rising up against these insane shutdowns,” they said. “We’re fighting back to demand that our elected officials reopen America.”

But the posts, funded by an initiative called Convention of States, were not the product of a grass-roots uprising alone. Instead, they represented one salvo in a wide-ranging and well-
financed conservative campaign to undermine restrictions that medical experts say are necessary to contain the coronavirus — but that protesters call overkill and whose economic fallout could damage President Trump’s political prospects.

A network of right-leaning individuals and groups, aided by nimble online outfits, has helped incubate the fervor erupting in state capitals across the country. The activism is often organic and the frustration deeply felt, but it is also being amplified, and in some cases coordinated, by longtime conservative activists, whose robust operations were initially set up with help from Republican megadonors.

The Convention of States project launched in 2015 with a high-dollar donation from the family foundation of Robert Mercer, a billionaire hedge fund manager and Republican patron. It boasts past support from two members of the Trump administration — Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development.


NBC tried to move the Washington Post’s story on the Dorr family further:

Protests against state stay-at-home orders have attracted a wide range of fringe activists and ardent Trump supporters. They have also attracted a family of political activists whom some Republican lawmakers have called “scam artists.”

A family-run network of pro-gun groups is behind five of the largest Facebook groups dedicated to protesting the shelter-in-place restrictions, according to an NBC News analysis of Facebook groups and website registration information.

The groups were set up by four brothers — Chris, Ben, Aaron and Matthew Dorr — and have amassed more than 200,000 members collectively, including in states where they don’t reside, according to an NBC News analysis based on public records searches and Facebook group registrations.

The Dorr brothers are known in conservative circles for running pro-gun and anti-abortion rights Facebook groups that bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by antagonizing establishment conservative leaders and activists.

Their usual method is to attack established conservative groups from the right, including the National Rifle Association, and then make money by selling memberships in their groups or selling mailing lists of those who sign up, according to some conservative politicians and activists who have labeled the efforts as scams.

The Washington Post first reported on the Dorrs’ role in the events.

The pages are just part of the more than 100 state-specific Facebook groups that have been created in the last two weeks to protest the stay-at-home orders, according to an unpublished analysis by First Draft, an organization that researches disinformation. The pages have organized at least 49 different events. Most of the groups are similarly named, and they have attracted more than 900,000 members in total.


So, what we have is the spin that the protests are not actually grassroots, that they are the sinister product of grifters using the protests to raise money and build email lists. Politico assures us that the protests are so disreputable that even the evil Koch Brothers will have nothing to do with them: The Koch network, avatar of the tea party, rejects shutdown protests:

Now, as another recession looms and concerns about government overreach and civil liberties are causing some conservatives to take to the streets, the Koch network is explicitly rejecting the in-person protests.

Americans for Prosperity — the main political arm of the Koch family — decided not to join some of its former collaborators from the tea party movement, such as FreedomWorks, in embracing the protests and is helping to organize them online.

The move reflects a dramatic shift in tactics within the network, which in the past has spent hundreds of millions of dollars a year on political action. It also demonstrates how the grassroots activist wing of the Republican Party — which was once funded and largely molded by the Kochs — has veered away from the small-government priorities of an earlier era. Now, much of the take-to-the-streets anger channels President Donald Trump’s skepticism of the kind of expertise that lies behind the coronavirus shutdowns.

“The question is — what is the best way to get people back to work? We don’t see protests as the best way to do that,” Emily Seidel, CEO of Americans for Prosperity, said in a statement. “Instead, we are working directly with policymakers to bring business leaders and public health officials together to help develop standards to safely reopen the economy without jeopardizing public health. The choice between full shutdown and immediately opening everything is a false choice.”

Though the number of protesters against social distancing has been relatively small so far, the mere existence of a tea party-like movement has been an awkward subject for Koch leaders, multiple people affiliated with the network told POLITICO. By not backing the protesters, they said, the Koch network risks alienating some of its longtime donors, who want to see it embrace the economic argument for reopening the country, as well as conservatives who are beginning to line up in favor of rolling back stay-at-home rules.


All of this is rather odd because the Washington Post has reported that the opposition to the un-Constitutional, not to say un-American, restrictions on liberties is actually coming from within state legislatures:

With a backlash against coronavirus restrictions generating demonstrations at state capitol buildings nationwide, organizers have framed the protests as organic and grass-roots.

But some of the biggest cheerleaders for an end to the mandatory social distancing that experts say is necessary to bend the coronavirus curve are lawmakers working from within. Taking cues from President Trump, they are using their platforms to encourage citizens to “liberate” their states from restrictions that have caused widespread economic misery.

The push among legislators is adding to the pressure on governors who have resisted Trump’s wish to see states open up again as of May 1. While some governors have eagerly announced an easing of restrictions, most have not, citing guidance from medical experts that a premature opening could cost many lives.

There are several points here.

1. Any assertion that the protests are not grassroots and organic simply has not taken the time to look at the protests. The number of people showing up indicates a widespread outrage among middle and working-class Americans against policies that do damned little good and a crap-ton of obvious harm.
2. There are movement conservatives involved in this, that does nothing to dispel the validity of point #1.
3. There are quite possibly grifters involved. Nearly every political movement has them. Look at The Bulwark and The Dispatch and anything touched by Bill Kristol or Rick Wilson. As the old saying goes, “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” Now, with social media, the ’cause’ and ‘racket’ functions take place at the same time. We saw this same thing in effect with the Tea Party movement back in 2010, the fact that grifters were involved did not make the movement less powerful.
4. The fact that the Koch Brothers aren’t helping says much more about their interests and philosophy than it does about the protest movement. Any movement that has to attack elected politicians to achieve its goal is not going to be the flavor du jour of an organization that relies upon being part of the power elite for its influence.


But the fear is becoming palpable. Nothing scares these people more than a free people exercising its freedom. That is the antithesis of government control, and corporatism, and rule by self-anointed experts. They can’t shut us up, so all they can do is try, in vain, to discredit the coming revolt the same way they tried to whistle past the graveyard back in 2010.


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