Note to Jazz Shaw: Encouraging your readers to join protests isn't "astroturfing"

Unfortunately, if you want to accuse the other side of Astroturf tactics, you then open yourself up to the same charge. The problem is compounded when you then attempt an injured, damp-eyed “Who, us?” defense, claiming that no such artificial planning, orchestration, and inflation of crowd numbers is going on. We saw this recently in a Weekly Standard article by Mary Katharine Ham, a wonderful author and frequent guest of ours on the Ed Morrissey Show.

In it, Ms. Ham derides liberal accusations of Republican shenanigans, pointing out that the “smoking gun” of GOP strategizing for these town hall disruptions came from a conservative PAC named Right Principles. Given that the organization had, at the time, a Facebook group with 23 members and a whopping five followers on Twitter, she made a compelling argument that the conspiracy charges were massively trumped up.

That only works, of course, if her premise that Right Principles was the sole — or at least chief — culprit in the faux grassroots organizational efforts. Sadly, this was hardly the case, as multiple, high profile communicators were feeding into the public grist mill across the internet. These included such luminaries as Michelle Malkin, who described the scenes of near town hall anarchy as the “counterinsurgency” and directed her readers to a full index of these events so they could “get in the game.” When last I checked, Ms. Malkin had a bit more than five followers.