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Hullabaloo


Monday, March 29, 2004

 
I Love These Guys

There was a fraction of a moment when no one knew how to react. Outside the Park Plaza Hotel -- where a boisterous crowd of protesters was chanting, beating drums, and bristling with antiwar signs meant for President Bush -- a group of about a dozen approached. They were in ball gowns and suits and drinking champagne. "Bush and Cheney are good for us," they chanted.

"Look at all these liberal hippies coming around with their boo-hoo signs," said one of them, a woman in a silver lame wrap and designer sunglasses.

Some of the protesters turned, stunned. But then someone pointed to the signs the fancy-dresssed group was carrying -- "Free the Enron Seven" and "Corporations are People Too!" -- and the crowd erupted with shouts of approval. "We should let them get up front," somebody shouted, telling the crowd to part and let them pass toward the hotel.

The group is, in fact, part of a well-organized, liberal-leaning protest machine calling itself Billionaires for Bush. With founding members in Massachusetts and New York, it plans to dog the Bush campaign through November, using satire as its gimmick. Staging swanky protests in which they enthusiastically defend tax loopholes for the rich and war contracts for friends of the president, they claim to be winning a loyal following -- donors and members at 25 chapters in several states. And they say they're making a more lasting impression with their anti-Bush message.

[...]

The Billionaires for Bush group is among several activist organizations sprouting up in recent years whose main tactics include humor and irony. "Reverend Billy" and his "Church of Stop Shopping," an anticonsumerism organization, stages church-revival-type rallies with a preacher. Then there is a group that purports to be made up of "housewives" from Bush's hometown of Crawford, Texas, with proverbs such as "A bomb, in time, saves 9" and "A country bribed is an ally earned." The "housewives" have made appearances at Times Square in New York, where they dressed up in red, white, and blue, and straddled plastic missiles.

Proponents say such humor is helping political groups attract younger participants. "This makes it fun, it makes it hip," said Andrew Boyd, "director of high-level schmoozing" for the Billionaires. "It gives it that ironic sensibility, which is a deep current in youth culture. Witness `The Daily Show' and Michael Moore."


It's more than youth culture:

Fake and scathing 1, fair and balanced 0. CNN and MSNBC have gotten used to losing to Fox News. But during the Democratic primaries, an unexpected foe stole the ratings crown from all three. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, a mock news program airing on Viacom's (VIA) Comedy Central, attracted more viewers at 11 p.m. than any of the cable news channels in the last two weeks of January, outdoing Fox by 20 percent even as the news network was running live campaign coverage. Stewart's fake news show has won ever-growing audiences with help from real politico guests like John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards.


Which news is the fake news again?

Thanks to Julia for the link.





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