"Replicant" theory emerges in US Astroturf scandal

Robots or men? [The Register]

A new theory emerged today to rebuff the “Astroturf” scandal that’s the talk of the web. A week ago a weblogger who calls himself Atrios discovered that identical letters praising “the leadership of President Bush” had appeared in dozens of local American newspapers.

Before Christmas, Mr.Atrios – whoever he is – had done much enterprising research to discomfort, and eventually help depose the Republican Senate Leader Trent Lott, after Lott’s wistful, pro-segregation remarks at a birthday dinner for centurion racist Strom Thurmond went unnoticed by the poodle mainstream press, here.

The identical letters appeared in 29 publications – including, oops – The Financial Times of London, England – and clearly suggested that a co-ordinated but entirely phony “grassroots” expression of support was swelling behind the President.

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