The question is whether, as [Yasha Levine and Mark Ames] basically asserted, Charles Koch masterminded a vast attempt to create the impression of popular support for a project in order to apply political pressure, while hiding his involvement through front groups that manufactured wholly imaginary popular support.
As far as I can tell, FreedomWorks a) isn't funded by Charles Koch and b) hasn't hidden its involvement. Their central thesis does not jibe with the facts available to me. Indeed, it seems deeply weird, because getting tea and a hundred or so people together in front of a government building isn't exactly an expensive endeavor. Last I heard, the DC operation was borrowing the megaphone they used, and getting the tea for free from some tea company.
This doesn't mean I endorse what FreedomWorks does--I frankly don't know enough about the organization to have an opinion on its operations. It merely seemed to me that their specific charges about the tea parties were insufficiently backed up with specific facts. Playboy has published some great journalism in its time. The ratio of speculation-to-evidence in the Levine and Ames piece was thus disappointing, especially since it was rapidly taken up as gospel truth by substantial sections of the lefty blogosphere.
Perhaps Yasha Levine and Mark Ames have some hard facts--or hell, even an untrustworthy anonymous source--who can substantiate some of these claims. If so, I wish they would provide them. Or at the very least, stop hurling unsubstantiated accusations at anyone who dares to point out the weaknesses in their case.
Of course McArdle was wrong, which is especially embarrassing since her husband is a former Koch rat-fucker and evidently lied to her by omission regarding the Koches' fake grass-roots activity.
Full disclosure: It's pretty much an open secret in DC, but given the content of the article I'm discussing, I think I ought to mention that I live with Peter Suderman, who once worked for Freedomworks. Other than giving me the name of the right employee to email to make inquiries (no word back yet), I haven't asked him about his former employer, and he hasn't told me anything. I debated whether to write about this, but since I'm not actually defending Freedomworks, I think it's kosher.
McArdle wrote five posts denying Ames and Levine's Koch articles and her live-in boyfriend, her "soul mate" and the love of her life, said nothing, evidently preferring to let her look like a fool rather than admit the Koches paid for fake grass-roots campaigns.