One of the big stories this week is that Comcast was accused of hiring an advocacy firm to fake public outrage over their object to the Big 10 moving games to their own channel from free tv. Helping to organize a coalition as a large corporate funder is certainly nothing new, and if done transparently, nothing inappropriate. In fact the astroturf website they put up, "Putting Fans First", acknowledges that their major funding comes from Comcast. Although an ineffective tactic at creating outrage, this is not what people objected to.
What drew the penalty flag was the fact that someone from Comcast’s public affairs firm (Martin-Waymire advocacy) is running around message boards pretending to be a fan and complaining about the Big 10 and promotion the Putting Fans First website. Although you can occasionally get away with a tactic like that, it never works under any level of scrutiny, and you can’t use it to jump-start a movement.
Now that multiple message board owners for Big 10 fans have caught wind of this, the faking of the fan messages is likely to detract from Comcasts’ arguments, making their job that much harder. Do we really need to learn this lesson repeatedly? Apparently so. One observer who frequents these message boards was clear why this strategy is not a good one:
"I guess they felt all the Big 10 fans would blindly follow their lead
like a bunch of lemmings. I’m insulted that they tried to manipulate
me, "the average Big 10 fan" with this crap. I don’t have the time to
sort through all the Comcast vs. BTN details, but I don’t like it when
people try to disguise their true intent with BS."