Grass Roots or Astroturf? Protests Disrupt Town Halls

Dems come home to hecklers swinging at health care legislation
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2009 11:57 AM CDT

(Newser) – Many Democrats' August recess is off to a noisy start, as conservative dissenters flood town-hall meetings to protest health care legislation, the Boston Globe reports. Using tactics and questions prescribed online, hecklers do their best to disrupt the events, yelling questions and shouting out while videotaping the exchange. Republicans say it’s proof of grassroots opposition to health care, but Democrats say it’s just “astroturf”—phony outrage orchestrated by Washington interest groups.

Conservative groups are certainly involved. Billionaire David Koch, organizer of April’s “tea party” protests, has spent millions on TV ads, and sent buses across the country to stir up protesters. Nor are protests limited to scheduled events. Rabble-rousers recently hung one rep in effigy outside of his office. “Being as neutral as I can, being that it was me hanging, I do think that crosses the line,” he said.