Use of GOP Shills on Black Audiences Nothing New

Christine Todd Whitman shills for nukes, for a significantly larger fee

MSNBC Reports:

Did the Romney campaign plant supporters at NAACP speech?
By Jillian Rayfield

Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:47 PM PDT

Did Mitt Romney’s campaign plant African-American supporters in the audience to cheer for the speech the candidate gave Wednesday to the NAACP? That’s what the NAACP’s Hilary Shelton claimed on The Ed Show. (See Late Updates below).

Romney said today that after the speech, at which he was booed for saying he’d repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, he met with black leaders who told him they support his policies but are afraid to do so publicly.

But on The Ed Show, Shelton said those were likely people brought in by the Romney camp “to actually provide the cheering for him.”

“Quite frankly, the campaign actually gave me a list of African-American VIPs that they brought into the NAACP meeting,” Shelton told Ed Schulz. “So we were aware that they had people brought in specifically for the campaign. So I’m sure those were the ones they sat down with, because quite frankly none of the rank-and-file NAACPers met with him.”

Indeed, despite the boos, cheering can be heard at various points during the speech, including when Romney criticized President Obama over the economy and education…

The technical term for this is “paid shills.” It’s a con that goes back to the old Medicine Shows and the Shell Game at county fairs. I don’t need to comment on this post, because I already commented on it, on February 3rd, 2005.

From “Skiing Uphill” the grandparent blog to this one (You’ll need to open in an IE tab if you’re on any other browser, emphasis added):

A Letter sent to a Reporter Friend of Mine in D.C.

Dear Richard:

Hart Williams here. I’m writing for the relocated Anderson Valley Advertiser these days, but that’s not why I’m writing.

Just a curious note. Who was the shill at the State of the Union speech?

Before you dismiss that as hyperbolic or conspiracy theory, consider this: back in the bad old days of the Carson Tonight Show, paid shills were often hired to make sure a new comedian got his “shot.” This was a well known Hollywood trick, and probably came to DC with Reagan. *

(* I used to know of people who were paid to do this in H’Wood. Heck, there was even a TV GUIDE profile of one of ’em).

So: I first noticed it when Bush spoke before the Urban League last summer. It was obvious from the crowd shots that the Black leadership were pointedly sitting on their hands. But, through the opening, there was polite applause. As the speech progressed, it became apparent that a specific group of people were applauding at specific speech points. As the polite applause died, the shills precipitated out as if in a chemistry experiment, until their voices/applause were the only ones in evidence, and the voices were distinct.

Tonight, during the SOU speech, the shill found him/herself alone more than once, as the Kongresspersons failed to respond to their cues. Given the penchant of the Bush Administration to hire professional press shills (cf.Anderson) is it REALLY any sort of stretch to suggest that they hired someone to lead the SOU cheers?

Since I’m not there, I have no way of identifying WHO that individual was, but I’d bet my next two paychecks that a cursory investigation would turn up the fact that they were NOT merely an amateur enthusiast.

The use of paid shills isn’t anything new. But it’s sure as hell gutter politics. Anyway, hope you’re doing well. Hasta luego, Richard.


Hart Williams

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
. . . . — H.L. Mencken (1880 – 1956)

Think anyone will follow up on this? Not a friggin’ chance.

Just call me Cassandra.

Posted:  2/03/2005 02:22:23 AM

My letter was politely ignored.

Because, undoubtedly, as we all know, the Washington Press Corpse gets it right 100% of the time.



A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, an honorary Texan, Clown (ditto) and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog

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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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