APPARENTLY THIS IS CALLED “ASTROTURFING”….Atrios has a list of newspapers that all published a form letter praising President Bush’s economic plan, most likely orchestrated by the White House or the RNC. In case you’re curious, here’s the text of the letter:

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.

Yeah, that sounds real, doesn’t it?

In comments, David de la Fuente says he wrote to ten newspapers to tell them they had been scammed, but only one responded:

Mr. De la Fuente

Thank you for your email. We did become aware of the fact that the Bush letter stating his “genuine leadership” was some type of form letter. It is often difficult to check the veracity of the letters we receive. We usually try to publish letters on local issues. The practice of mass submitting letters is old. We have been receiving these types of letters for some time. We have our “regular” submitters. I believe there to be a distribution list circulating among certain groups that contain the email addresses of various second tier media vehicles that are more likely to publish the letter. We will occasionally publish these letters although we have a good idea that is a not the work of a single individual. We happen to live in a red state and a majority of our readership are GOP members. We view it as an occasional courtesy. I believe you will see this trend continue as it is relatively inexpensive and lacks labor intensity, while it is able to reach broad market segments. I?m just shocked that it has taken so long for others to expose it. This fad begun over three years ago.

Thank you for your diligence and concern for fair media.

Roger Bunce
The Lynchburg Ledger

Just an “occasional courtesy.” Ah, the liberal media….