May 12, 2010

Think Progress Duped By Class Project

And the sad thing is, the kids weren't even trying to fool anyone; Think Progress simply did it to themselves.

The Center for American Progress seemed to have blockbuster news on Tuesday: an expose titled "Telecoms' Secret Plan To Attack Net Neutrality."

On its Think Progress blog, the liberal advocacy group announced it had "obtained" a PowerPoint document "which reveals how the telecom industry is orchestrating the latest campaign against Net neutrality" through a pseudo-grassroots effort. The story was echoed on Slashdot, Boing Boing, and innumerable pro-regulation blogs.

There's just one problem with Think Progress' claim: It's not, well, accurate.

In a case of truth being stranger than astroturf, it turns out that the PowerPoint document was prepared as a class project for a competition in Florida last month. It cost the six students a grand total of $173.95, including $18 for clip art.

The "No Net Brutality" campaign idea was one of the four finalists created as an assignment for a two-and-a-half week "think tank MBA" program. The other finalists were a project promoting free speech in Venezuela, one supporting education reform in Poland, and one dealing with sales taxes rates in Washington, D.C. ("No Net Brutality" came in third. The Polish reform idea won.)

Not only was the PowerPoint document presentation no secret, but it was posted publicly on the competition's blog, along with an audio recording of the event in Miami where the student contestants presented their ideas to the judges.

The mastermind behind this SNAFU is Lee Fang, who some of you will recognize as a faithful but unimaginative Oliver Willis-grade drone.

(h/t/ Simon Owens)

Posted by Confederate Yankee at May 12, 2010 12:29 PM