Behind The ‘Attactivism’ Facebook Curtain

When Barry Goldwater became the target of the infamous 1964 ‘Daisy’ Commercial, it brought ‘Dirty Tricks’ as ‘Political Attack’ media into the forefront.  It’s since become a tactical staple for anyone using the Presidential campaign playbook, to pluck out a ‘Daisy’. In the era of social networks, Facebook has now become the perfect ‘Daisy’ for reaching the ‘soft touch populous’, by disguising political attacks as stealth activism.

Attactivism (noun) pronounced A-TACK-TA-VISM: Are movements that run attack ads or conduct campaigns disguised as activism.

Facebook is littered with attack Ad campaigns, be it targeting Obama, Obamacare, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, The Tea Party, Pelosi, you name it, all sides have considered Facebook fair ground for spreading ‘Attactivism’. With PAC laws in place, it can be simple to see who are behind some of these groups.

Recently, one such effort was the ‘Stop Romney’ Facebook Ad which was brought to you by the Western Representation PAC. Their Facebook page maintains: Conservatives in America deserve to feel passionately about their Presidential nominee, and Mitt Romney would NOT be that candidate!

A recent Facebook Ad produced by Western Representation PAC

Based in Sparks Nevada, Western Representation PAC was founded in 2009 by Roger and Dustin Stockton. The PAC soon established itself with firm ties within the rising Tea Party movement.  Their current Chairman is the failed Alaskan US Senate Candidate Joe Miller. Their Co-Founder & Chief Strategist Dustin Stockton has also helped steer the PAC into adopting an extensive use of social media. ‘Stop Romney’ isn’t the first time Western Representation PAC has embarked on a Facebook vendetta. In 2010, the PAC ran another group on Facebook titled ‘The Campaign Against Barney Frank‘. According to Independent Expenditures accounts filed with the FEC, the total cost of the campaign was $60,150. $20,000 of which was spent supporting Barney Frank* (View Clarification At End Of Article).

The information I gathered on the Western Representation PAC, was obtained using simple Google searches, as well as viewing the PAC and FEC websites.  Under the full disclosure of PAC rules, I was able to find out the PAC donations, and who they supported.  To some it might be considered a no-brainer’, and I might have saved myself the need to conduct these searches to figure this one out… but it’s clear that the Western Representation PAC, much like the Tea Party aren’t exactly fans of Mitt Romney.  

The convenience of Facebook ADs are their ability to be accepted on ‘face value’ (or ‘Facebook-Value’ you could say) without too much effort. That doesn’t mean they should be exempt from simple fact-checking, to fully understand their motives.  This can all be done, with a few quick steps.

After Clicking the Facebook AD, check the ABOUT Field – If the group is connected to any PAC, they will display the entire PAC name.

The next step is to do some old fashioned web searches. Viewing the Website of the PAC can give you a good idea where they are coming from. To get a better idea, it’s best to go to the FEC. The FEC keeps PDF records on their website of all financial filings reported by the PAC. If you want a less tedious approach, try opensecrets.org.

opensecrets.org, present the same data obtained from FEC filings and places these into categories such as Recipients, Donors, Expenditures, PAC to PAC donations, and Independent Expenditures. The Independent Expenditures data (pictured above) show money spent by the PAC on advocating the election or the defeat of specific candidates.  The yellow highlight on this table show the candidates targeted for campaigns the PAC have conducted and it’s total expenditure.

At this point, you should have a better understanding behind the true motives behind the Facebook AD.

While some may get disappointed at seeing their candidate attacked via Facebook ‘Attactivism’, it’s best to just ‘click’, and do the research.  If it’s a small PAC, chances are the AD could disappear if any ‘clicking’ depletes the Facebook AD Budget, a factor which larger PACs or Political Parties have little worry over.

The great music critic Lester Bangs once said, “Nothing ever quite dies, it just comes back in a different form”. In the case of Daisy‘, the dirty tricks just morphed into the side of our Facebook page, which a lot of people now   

– Craig Edwards – 

* Clarification: The amount of $20,000 for Independent Expenditures supporting Barney Frank was based on records obtained from opensecrets.org.  In reviewing the amended end of year report PDF filed with the FEC, all Independent Expenditures spent for Barney Frank indicated only opposition was conducted by Western Representation PAC.

Further Viewing: YOU TUBE: Black-Eyed Democracy

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Posted in 2012 Presidential Election Coverage, Attack Ads, Attactivism, Double Standards, Editorial, Extremists, Fascism, Mitt Romney | Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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