By now we should all be applauding the success of Better Georgia’s publicity stunt of last week. They have achieved their goals, and this should be noted. They’ve managed to get many local and some national headlines stating that some officials, including the Governor, aren’t against a segregated prom.
Look at the words carefully and you’ll have to parse it to realize its wide reporting of a non-story. The Governor’s spokesperson (rightfully) called out Better Georgia for a publicity stunt. Better Georgia responded (as expected from this set up) that the Governor wouldn’t speak out against something on their terms. And that is what this has been about from the beginning. At least, the beginning of when Better Georgia got involved. Because the actual issue of the segregated prom was settled before Better Georgia started the PR blitz disguised as a disingenuous fundraising campaign.
As we covered last week, Republican Melvin Everson – a Wilcox County native and appointee of Governor Deal – had actually called for funding the prom locally when he became aware of the group hosting the prom via social media. That group’s Facebook page also posted on April 5th “Through your generosity, we are happy and overjoyed to say that we have met our goal for our Prom.”
Yet it was on April 10th before Better Georgia began to execute their PR takedown. They spammed virtually every Republican on Twitter asking for donations to fund this prom that the group had already announced was fully funded 5 days before Better Georgia decided to make themselves the issue. But using “the children” has been a time honored tradition in Georgia politics, and Better Georgia’s most recent use of them for this stunt is as shameless as any.
Better Georgia admonished those of us who objected to this as a publicity stunt, even though we knew exactly how it was going to end, pushing it off about how it was all just about supporting the children. But it’s not about the Children. It’s about Better Georgia.
Who is Better Georgia? They like to pretend they’re independent, including this statement in most of their press releases:
“Better Georgia is an independent, non-partisan organization and is not affiliated with any political party.”
This is inserted into the boiler plate of too many news articles to imply that the group is impartial, especially given their Orwellian name. The reality is, well let’s just let one of the founders, Amy Morton, tell us their objective in her own words:
“ (I) decided to volunteer to help launch Better Georgia, an affiliate of ProgressNow,. Starting now, Better Georgia will provide a megaphone for the millions of Georgians who don’t care about red or blue, but simply want a government that works for them.
Today Georgia begins a journey toward a better, more progressive state. It’s the day progressives have decided we’re sick of letting the debate in Georgia be between the right and the far right.”
So, “independent” and “non-partisan” clearly doesn’t mean without a political agenda. Better Georgia is all about embarrassing Republicans wherever possible, even if they have to create the “news” to serve as the embarrassment.
And who is ProgressNow? Their website makes it clear, and tracks with the organized stunt from Better Georgia:
“ProgressNow works with our states partners to promote progressive ideas and causes through earned media strategies and cutting-edge new media.”
For those unfamiliar with the term, “earned media” is when you get your story, agenda, or policy position placed into circulation via news stories as opposed to paid advertisements. Like, you know, creating a publicity stunt to fund a prom that has already been funded before you hijacked the issue.
You may have heard a little more about ProgressNow last week. Fingers are being pointed at their Kentucky chapter for bugging the campaign office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. That’s the kind of thing that was an impeachable offense when Republicans did it in the 1970’s. It just may be the new way of doing things for “independent and non-partisan” groups.
Updated: Better Georgia has forwarded an email from ProgressNow claiming no affiliation with the ProgressKentucky SuperPAC. I guess we should start spamming twitter asking if Better Georgia condemns wiretapping and those who illegally do it.
Politics is a rough and tumble activity, and Better Georgia is certainly entitled to attempt to bait Republicans into inelegant responses to situations set up for partisan gain. Georgia’s media need to be more careful in accepting these premises that events set up almost a week after solutions and remedies have taken care of situations are really “about the children”.
Because if you want to know how much Better Georgia really cares about the children, let’s just go back to Amy Morton’s history. She is, after all, the person who sued to open up the divorce records of 8th District GOP Congressman Austin Scott, forcing Scott’s then 11 year old son into the middle of a public battle over the release of records affecting his custodial arrangements.
Because, you know, it’s for the children….so long as it serves a partisan purpose.