Saturday, September 05, 2009
A front group is an organization that purports to represent one agenda while in reality it serves some other party or interest whose sponsorship is hidden or rarely mentioned. The front group is perhaps the most easily recognized use of the third party propaganda technique. One of the best examples is Rick Berman's Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), which claims that its mission is to defend the rights of consumers to choose to eat, drink and smoke as they please. In reality, though, CCF is a front group for the tobacco, restaurant and alcoholic beverage industries, which provide all or most of its funding. Not all organizations that engage in manipulative efforts to shape public opinion can be classified as "front groups," however. The now-defunct Tobacco Institute was a highly deceptive industry trade and lobbying group, but it didn't hide the fact that it represented the tobacco industry. There are also varying degrees of concealment. The Global Climate Coalition didn't hide the fact that its funding came from oil and coal companies, but nevertheless its name alone is sufficiently misleading that it can reasonably be considered a front group.