I've written about my hatred for the Fix the Debt group and their paid shills many times on this blog. The Nation exposed them, as well, in their article: Pete Peterson's Puppet Populists, but after reading today's news report that they were using astroturfing methods to place their own op-eds in newspapers, my hatred has exponentially increased by the power of pi.
Our friend Jon Romano, press secretary for the inside-the-beltway PR campaign “Fix the Debt” and its pet youth group, The Can Kicks Back, have been caught writing op-eds for college students and placing the identical op-eds in papers across the country.
This is the latest slip-up in Fix the Debt’s efforts to portray itself as representing America’s youth. Previously, they were caught paying dancers to participate in a pro-austerity flash mob and paying Change.org to gather online petition signers for them.
The newspapers involved in the scam were not amused.
Gainesville Sun to Fix the Debt: “Lay Off the Astroturf and Outright Plagiarism”
The identical op-eds were discovered by Florida’sGainesville Sun. The paper’s scathing editorial on the topic makes for an entertaining read.
If you liked University of Florida student Brandon Scott’s column last Sunday about the national debt, you also should enjoy columns by Dartmouth College student Thomas Wang and University of Wisconsin student Jennifer Pavelec on the issue.
After all, they’re the same columns.
The identical columns ran last weekend in newspapers in New Hampshire and Wisconsin. They each included the same first-person passage describing the student’s work with the Campaign to Fix the Debt and its “millennial arm,” The Can Kicks Back.
After I was told last week about the column appearing under the byline of different writers in other publications, it was removed from The Sun’s website. Staff with the Campaign to Fix the Debt, who sent out the columns, said they were templates that were supposed to be personalized or otherwise reworded.
The campaign’s vice president of communications, John Romano, said Scott -— an intern with the group — was not at fault.
“This was an inadvertent mistake and the campaign takes full responsibility for it,” he said.
Oh heck. I wonder if this might mean that their so-called millennial "I want all my elderly relatives to move in with me when they can no longer work" program might be a bit overblown? As in, it might be just a silly front group created with Pete Peterson money and it has no real members.