'So are the "grassroots" genuinely angry, or are the protests simply manufactured "astroturf"?
That depends largely on your politics - or whether you watch the liberal MSNBC or conservative Fox News.
If you are an Obama Democrat, you will find reason to be suspicious.
Why, for example, are the protesters filming the meetings and then posting video on the internet?'
I try to give credit where credit is due. Although this piece starts by laying out in detail the Dem view of the supposed 'mobs' protesting against socialized medicine in America, it then goes on to provide a number of the legitimate criticisms of the Dem view.
But is the piece as a whole un-biased? Try this thought experiment. Go back in your mind to 2006, the very height of the anti-Iraq-intervention maelstrom. Picture Code Pink and/or Cindy Sheehan suddenly revealing themselves at a congressional hearing, shouting and chanting, disrupting the whole proceedings until they are thrown out by security. Would they video it?
Anybody who knows WHY these things are done knows that videoing it is THE WHOLE POINT. You then post the video on all the video hosting sites and on your organisations website and boast about it for a month.
So why the bizarre question? How would the fact that Tea-partiers have some internal organisation and media savvy make them less genuine or legitimate? Nobody at the BBC questioned the self-promotional tactics of those protesting against the Iraq intervention. But then they almost certainly agreed with the protestors. So why in this piece?
And by the way, the first paragraph is a logical nonsense. It can be objectively determined whether the protests are astroturf or not by comparing them in detail to astroturfers of days gone by- there are plenty to choose from. Many of the 'mob' showed up at these meetings on a tide of anger with no sign, no prior knowledge of each other, and no coordination. If you look at the astroturfers, they show up in buses and vans, they have 'leaders' who shepherd the little platoons around, scripts for chants, mass produced printed signs in fonts big enough to be easily picked up by TV cameras, and matching t-shirts or even whole outfits. The astroturfers are also led by people who are trained in media tricks and who will almost certainly have many friends in the local TV stations and newspapers. If the track record of the vast majority of local news reports is anything to go on, the Tea-partiers have NO friends in local tv and newspapers.
Many of the local tv stations and newspapers ignored the Tea Party protests at town hall meetings completely if they could. They know that denying the Tea Partiers the oxygen of publicity is the best way of limiting their appeal to the public at large, and of helping the dem friends.
One very large-scale problem America faces is the enormous number of liberal arts/humanities graduates churned out of US universities, 99% of whom lean left or are blatantly socialist. They have few career choices. Up until now, one of the few careers open to a graduate in English Lit would be media, whether TV or print. So year after year, more and more dems/socialists pour into the media, whereas young republicans are much more likely to choose a career as a business-person, engineer, manufacturer, join the armed forces or a profession.
So if you work in the media, you may never meet a republican from one year to the next, and imagine in your tiny mind that they are a minute, vanishing breed. Certainly thats an opinion many of them seem to hold. When I worked at AP, I met numerous people who were shocked to discover I was a conservative. For them, it was like suddenly discovering a left-over dinosaur. Of course, the reality is, outside of the media and a few other bastions, most Americans ARE republicans, or non-committed conservatives. Most polling indicates the mass of Americans are to the right of center. Even many who vote dem are right of center, viz Hillary Clintons sudden rediscovery of her Tammy Wynette roots, gun collection and Baptist hallelujah religion when Obama overtook her in the primary race.
So it seems that the hopes of the Tea Party Protesters getting a fair hearing on either side of the Atlantic is small. Certainly the BBC don't want to give them the benefit of any doubt, but are forced to so far by their editorial system. How long can that last?