Plants and Stooges Spike Town Halls

One can’t be sure the questioner's a plain old citizen, Salon observes
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2007 6:06 PM CST

(Newser) – The town hall meeting has long been an American tradition in which regular folk talk with political candidates, but Salon’s Michael Scherer says our modern variant is so diluted by plants and stooges it should “be placed inside quotation marks.” Hillary Clinton’s campaign called attention to the “town hall” last week by getting caught scripting an undergraduate’s climate change query.

Indeed, there’s “widespread manipulation": Not only do candidates regularly plant questions in their own forums, they also send stooges to rivals’ events. And plants placed by interest groups are more common than ever: A coal industry group is even asking citizens to read its talking points. It’s getting so pols can’t tell who placed the questions—or, heaven forbid, if they’re genuine.