The Billionaires’ Tea Party
Shortly after Barack Obama and a Congressional Democrats swept to power promising a new era of hope and change, a citizens protest movement emerged threatening to derail their agenda. The Tea Party was widely hailed as an exercise in grassroots democracy. But others saw it as a classic example of “astroturfing,” a public relations charade designed to mimic a populist revolt. Curious to find out for himself, Australian filmmaker Taki Oldham decided to travel into the heart of the movement. The result is this astonishing look at how moneyed elites have been exploiting legitimate voter outrage to advance their own narrow interests. Oldham takes us inside town hall meetings where angry voters parrot insurance industry PR; finds “citizen groups” working to debunk climate change that are funded by big oil companies; and peels back a movement’s down-home image to discover a coordinated network of right-wing shadow groups funded by the likes of billionaire ideologue Charles and David Koch. At once a record of our political moment, and a stunning case study in the power of public relations. Broadcast around the world, the film played on Netflix in the US and is now available to watch on Kanopy.