Dozens of editors of US newspapers published the letter, apparently in good faith. And on the face of it, the letters were signed by different individuals.
We now have proof that the letters were auto-organised from a Republican Party website.
The emails are orchestrated from its "Team Leader" site, which you can find here.
An INQUIRER reader applied to join the Team Leader initiative and captured this picture of the letter, which requires subscribers to join up as a "Team Leader". Once you are registered as a "Team Leader", you can then send out suggested letters to a wide range of media outlets in the US.
The whole letter reads as follows:
"When it comes to the economy, President Bush is demonstrating genuine leadership. The economic growth package he recently proposed takes us in the right direction by accelerating the successful tax cuts of 2001, providing marriage penalty relief, and providing incentives for individuals and small businesses to save and invest.
"Contrary to the class warfare rhetoric attacking the President's plan, the proposal helps everyone who pays taxes, and especially the middle class. This year alone, 92 million taxpayers will receive an immediate tax cut averaging $1,083 - and 46 million married couples will get back an average of $1,714.
"That's not pocket change for a family struggling through uncertain economic times. Combined with the President's new initiatives to help the unemployed, this plan gets people back to work and helps every sector of our economy."
Now we learn the practice has already some history, although the US news media - perhaps out of embarrassment - does not yet seem to have picked it up.
At this web site, there is a fight against "killer astroturf" which relates to the 2002 Republican campaign.
That site says the letters are part of an orchestrated campaign and are word for word identical.
Worse - a whole heap of newspapers took the letter as genuine and published it.
Newspapers alleged to have fallen for the spamsters include the Boston Globe, USA Today, the Dallas Morning News, the Albany Pilot, the Green Bay Press Gazette and several dozen others.
Yesterday it was suggested that our own august Financial Times had published the latest example of the "astroturf". µ
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