Astroturf 101

One of our colleagues recently got a particularly ham-handed pitch from a P.R. agency for an op-ed on the subject of how dangerous imported prescription drugs are. The pitch purported to be from a “seniors’ group,” but was actually from an offshoot of an obscure conservative outfit funded by, you have to guess, the pharmaceuticals industry.

Anyway, the thing is so textbook that we thought we’d reprint a bit of it here. (Here’s a link to the op-ed itself, which made it into a South Dakota newspaper.)

“Hello Editor,

“My name is Hugh Norton. I sent you an email a few days ago and I am following up on it right now. I don’t know if you were able to take a look at the Op-Ed that I sent. I am also aware that you like to deal with mostly local issues with the Opinion part of your paper. This IS a local issue, if you have a friend, family member, or perhaps you yourself are taking prescription drugs, it affects you directly. In that way it is very local.

“Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer are co-sponsoring Drug Reimportation legislation…

“In her OpEd below, Michelle Plasari with the seniors’ group, RetireSafe.org, explains that the legislation the Senators are supporting would allow countries, such as Estonia, Latvia and Malta to ship their cheaper reimported drugs to the US….”

Um, thanks Hugh. Sounds right up the Observer’s alley.

Actually, we’re particularly offended on behalf of our Latvian connections.