A Definition of Astroturfing

Definition: Astroturfing is a political term that describes a type of campaign that can be via public relations, television, radio, Internet or political demonstrations, that seeks to gain entry into popular culture under the guise of appearing to be a spontaneous movement. Astroturfing refers to a synthetic grass covering popular in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s called AstroTurf.

Astroturfing is an artifice that uses either a specific demographic or a diverse group of people to push a political agenda, often without their knowledge.

Astroturfers incite others to action by spreading disinformation or talking points aimed at disseminating a specific message either for or against a specific politician, political organization or piece of legislation.

Astroturfers are most often highly paid lobby groups or political operatives, who act at the behest of an organization or individual with a stake in the successful outcome of the astroturf campaign. A successful astroturf campaign can sometimes emerge into a genuine "grassroots" movement and most astroturf campaigns are not discovered and/or discredited until long after the campaign is over.

Pronunciation: astroterf

Also Known As: PR spin, push polls, fraudience

Alternate Spellings: Astro Turfing, Astro-turfing

Examples: "This initiative is funded by the high end - we call call it astroturf, it's not really a grassroots movement. It's astroturf by some of the wealthiest people in America to keep the focus on tax cuts for the rich instead of for the great middle class."
-- Nancy Pelosi

"Denver photojournalist El Marco was at the event and has an amazing pictorial essay detailing how Pelo[si]’s Astroturf brigade had to be coached by professional organizers — including several day laborers who didn’t speak English and couldn’t tell what the signs they were holding read."
-- Michelle Malkin