From the start of the Republic, some political partisans have tried to persuade the public of the rightness of their arguments and the wrongness of those of their political opponents by using subterfuge of one kind or another.
It's as American as one major political party accusing the other for being less patriotic, for instance.
Still, it's always interesting to see how these tactics play out in particular cases.
John Dunbar at The Center for Public Integrity examines Generation Opportunity, a purportedly non-partisan, grassroots youth effort that turns out to be run by individuals with strong GOP links. GO (as in GOP) not only has a social media presence, but does polling which has been picked up by mainstream news outlets that have unquestioningly presented the group as non-partisan.
An excerpt from CPI's report:
"Generation Opportunity" bills itself as a fast-growing, nonpartisan organization that uses its website and popular Facebook pages to urge civic-minded young people to "take action" by doing things like registering to vote, organizing local events and writing letters to the editor.
But for a nonpartisan organization, its messages sound a lot like Republican Party talking points.
"Most young Americans would prefer to have elected officials in Washington get out of the way of job creators and let those who actually do it for a living drive the solutions," reads a statement from organization president Paul T. Conway, regarding recent unemployment numbers.
According to report, a liberal blogger described GO as a "conservative Astroturf front group" that uses social media like Facebook to try and reach young people.
Dunbar apparently tried but couldn't reach the individuals behind GO, including Paul Conway, a former Bush Administration official, to get their side of the story.
But he did reach Morton Blackwell, president of the conservative Leadership Institute where Conway trained, as did James O'Keefe whose secretly recorded videos have been used in a number of conservative stings, including one involving NPR.
Another snip from CPI's report:
Blackwell said it is possible for someone with a partisan background to lead a nonpartisan organization. "Just because you work for a nonpartisan organization doesn't mean you lose your civil rights," he said.