The Billionaires’ Tea Party
In Summer 2009, something stirred in America. After Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress swept to power promising a new era of hope and change, a citizens’ protest movement called the Tea Party emerged out of nowhere, threatening to derail their agenda. Was the new movement the epitome of grassroots democracy? Or was it, as some said, an example of “astroturfing” – the creation of fake grassroots groups, designed to put corporate messages in the mouths of seemingly independent citizens?
Fascinated by the concept of astroturfing, and curious to find out more, Australian filmmaker Taki Oldham hopped on a plane to investigate. Going undercover as a curious onlooker, his month-long journey took him over 5,000 miles, through six states and right to the heart of the “American Dream”. As the investigation turns to whether it is mere ideology or corporate investment driving these groups, Taki uncovers startling and unnerving evidence that the Tea Party movement was brought to birth with the help of ample funding from billionaires and big business – in particular, the secretive oil barons Charles and David Koch.
The Billionaires’ Tea Party is both a journey through a unique moment in American history, and a thoroughly-researched piece of investigative journalism. Through an examination of astroturfing and disinformation, we see how citizen democracy has been captured by powerful corporate interests that threaten not only the health of America’s democracy, but that of its citizens and the planet as a whole