A postscript to astroturf

The ombudsman of the Boston Globe wrote an interesting column today following up the “astroturf” (or should that be “chemlawn”?) about Bush’s genuine demonstrated leadership that I wrote about a week or so ago. Some interesting words:

Editors at dozens of papers have not been pleased to discover that they ran GOP form letters. Most papers, the Globe among them, want their letters page to reflect authentic local sentiment, homegrown views, not reworked press releases….[Globe Editorial Page Editor Renee Loth:] “Readers have a right to assume that what they read on the letters page is not canned public relations material,” she says. Thus, she has instituted a new policy to confirm original authorship on any letter that could be part of an organized campaign.

The Internet may be part of the problem, but it can also be part of the solution; I’d suggest adding regular online searches of key phrases in any suspect letter, to quickly identify already-published duplicates.

If the number of hits I’m getting from Google on “demonstrating genuine leadership” is any indication, editors are starting to do just that. Of course, Greg pointed out to me in a chat that “over the weekend … the AJC ran the ‘demonstrating genuine leadership’ letter again without realizing.” To be precise, it was Friday, and it was published signed by Robert Rahm of Snellville. Eternal vigilance is the price of an astroturf-free editorial page, I guess.