While the Tea Party movement has tried to portray itself as organic and grassroots, it has had, in reality, several powerful, well-funded interests backing it up. Two of those entities have been Fox News host Glenn Beck and Dick Armey’s corporate front group FreedomWorks. Beck regularly cheerleads for the protests, often broadcasts live from their events, and has even helped them raise money. FreedomWorks staffers have given valuable logistical and administrative astroturf support to the Tea Parties.
Today on its Twitter page, FreedomWorks announced that it was officially partnering with Beck:
The tweet links to a video on the YouTube page of FreedomWorks Action — the c4 advocacy arm of the organization — of Beck explaining the partnership:
BECK: I have to tell you, this was a hard decision for me to take on FreedomWorks, and here’s why: because I don’t want to send the message to you that the way to restore our republic is through the political process only. And I was afraid that you would hear “FreedomWorks” and you would say, “Well, wait a minute, what does that mean? I think you do. I think you do. I think you need to get onto every bandwagon you can get onto right now.”
I want to send you the message that FreedomWorks is the only– and we’ve looked — the only organization that we have seen that really truly has the organizational power (the other one is like the NRA is also like this). They have the infrastructure, they have the organizational power, they have the ability to get information to people quickly, en masse.
And we must, must, must link arms with people. Everybody plays a different role. My message to you is to shore yourself up personally, with history, with faith, and with your own personal finances. That is my course that I am charting. I’ve got to move away from the political stuff. That is what kept me up last night. But political stuff has got to be done. You have to pay attention. There are things that are happening in Washington that you have to know about. We need the Tea Party protests to continue. We need to organize and reach out to each other. So I want you to go to Freedomworks.org, because freedom works.
Beck’s pairing with FreedomWorks is a perfect marriage of their economic interests. Both groups are Tea Party profiteers, exploiting the fears of the conservative base to enrich themselves personally. Beck may do more than just promote the Tea Parties: FreedomWorks Action has made clear that it has a list of “targets” in the 2010 elections — all of whom happen to be Democrats or Independents — that it will be going after. The candidates the group is supporting are far-right conservatives like Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Pat Toomey. Despite the everyman, outsider image he likes to portray, Beck’s partnership means that he will be working even closer with a bevy of DC insiders.
In the past, Beck has picked up the opposition research and talking points of another corporate-funded front group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP). His character-assassination campaign directed at Van Jones was fueled by AFP’s policy effort to kill green jobs. Beck also followed AFP’s lead in calling net neutrality an attack on freedom of speech.