Boy, Those Corn Farmers Sure Are Interested In Internet Politics

from the something's-not-right-here... dept

You may recall last summer, an NBC Universal exec tried to convince Congress that corn farmers were very, very concerned about movie piracy, coming up with an obviously laughable theory that more piracy would hurt corn farmers by having fewer people buy popcorn in the theaters (forgetting, of course, that people eat popcorn at home too -- and that popcorn isn't exactly a significant portion of corn farmer revenue these days). Anyway, it appears those "corn farmers" sure are busy when it comes to keeping politicians aware of what's happening on the internet. Declan McCullagh found it odd that a group of corn farmers had sent a letter to Congress demanding Congress investigate the potential harm done by a Google-Yahoo advertising deal. It didn't take much investigating for McCullagh to figure out that the letter wasn't actually written by corn farmers, but by a secretive lobbying/PR firm called Law Media Group, which was clear from the metadata on the corn farmers' letter.

McCullagh then explores how these lobbying groups basically get other groups to put their name on various letters, quoting one anonymously saying: "You go down the Latino people, the deaf people, the farmers, and choose them.... You say, 'I can't use this one--I already used them last time...' We had their letterhead. We'd just write the letter. We'd fax it to them and tell them, 'You're in favor of this.'" Amusingly, McCullagh notes, a Latino group also wrote a letter of concern about the Yahoo-Google deal, just hours after the farmers did.

As for Law Media Group, McCullagh talks a bit about how secretive they are, and tries to dig out what cable firm or telco might really be behind the letter. He notes that AT&T claims it used to work with Law Media Group, but no longer does and wasn't behind the letter. I can say with near certainty that Law Media Group doesn't work with AT&T anymore... because representatives from Law Media Group have spent the last few months trying to get me to say bad things about AT&T. They contacted me a few months back insisting they had some really damaging info on FCC chair Kevin Martin. They sent over the "evidence," which basically could be summed up as: Kevin Martin has good friends who work or worked at AT&T. Oh really? That's like sending over documents saying that Kevin Martin is a Republican. It's not news. Ever since then, though, someone from Law Media Group sends me various alerts and press releases that all seem to be at the expense of cable industry foes. So, I'd say it's pretty likely that the "corn farmers" are really just representing the cable industry here. Hope they at least get a discount on those ever increasing cable TV rates.

Update: Declan now has a follow up, where LMG insists it had nothing to do with the letter other than to create the PDF. It also denies any lobbying activity, though McCullagh points out that the company filed disclosure forms for lobbying earlier this year -- to which LMG had no response.

Filed Under: advertising, corn farmers, lobbyists
Companies: law media group

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  1. identicon
    Mr. Green Jeans, 12 Jun 2008 @ 6:26am


    title -> "Boy, Those Corn Farmers Sure Are Interested In Internet Politics"

    Good one !
    If I were a farmer who raised corn, I would be concerned that someone was using my good name for nefarious purposes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Dave, 12 Jun 2008 @ 6:32am

    IANACF but

    I wonder if I can start a small group for left handed bagpipe technicians and get the Law Media Group to send something out in my name.

    I could do with the advertising.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    José Luis, 12 Jun 2008 @ 6:44am


    I've read here many times the "piracy hurts corn farmers" but i think is the first time you written the whole "explanation" (the popcorn effect).

    You made my morning :-)

    Maybe you could start the "Techdirt - most stupid quotes" and include one or two in a post every day. You will certainly not be short on material.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Matt, 12 Jun 2008 @ 7:14am

    Bad Link

    The link in the article seems to be bad. Or maybe just already down from a DMCA letter?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Overcast, 12 Jun 2008 @ 7:32am

    Went to a movie last week - didn't eat popcorn anyway.

    I'm not seriously nuts enough to buy popcorn at the cinema. It's habit now to eat prior to going to a movie. Found it wasn't just me either - the whole group I went with - didn't buy an ounce of popcorn.

    Stupid Argument.

    Actually, I am FAR FAR more likely to buy popcorn when I'm watching movies at home - that way I can get 3 pounds for a buck and a half, instead of 5 ounces for 3.50.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Formerly annonymous coward, 12 Jun 2008 @ 8:17am

    I bought popcorn once

    It was actually a $3.00 service charge for premium seats (came with a coupon for a free large popcorn = $3) But I really enjoyed watching Iron Man in a 21+ theater with a stiff drink and no screaming children. But the popcorn was horrible.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Doug, 12 Jun 2008 @ 8:53am

    Having had several friends who have worked with theaters over the years, I know why the prices for the snacks and drinks are steep. When you look at how much a theater pays to show a movie (which is so much per screen per day), and look at how much they make on tickets, they are making almost no money. This means that they have to jack up the prices on the snacks to pay for the employees. After all, if there is a choice between $6.50/person for a movie or $7.00/person, we will choose the former without really thinking about the snacks, which could be $6.00/person while only $5.50 at the latter.

    So like Overcast, I am in favor of popcorn at home instead of the theater.

    Oh... and having grown up in farming country, and having a father who sold silos to farmers... I **KNOW** they are not getting the majority of the money we pay the groceries for food. That goes to the middle folks, like the processors, wholesalers, etc., and leaves the farmer trying to figure out where his next tank of diesel fuel for the tractor and truck are coming from. One reason I am buying more of my food through co-ops.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jun 2008 @ 9:06am

    Metadata will get you every time...

    Wonder who has the most to lose if G/Y merge?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    James, 12 Jun 2008 @ 9:14am

    Re: I bought popcorn once

    Shutup!! man I wish there was one around here! I love to drink brew while watching a flick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    cvpunk, 12 Jun 2008 @ 9:39am


    So the cable industry is using farmers to push their agendas?
    I don't know about the rest of the country but where I live in central California the farmers can't even get cable. It's either satelite or crappy huge antenna's on top of their house.
    also, even though this story wasn't actually about buying popcorn at theatres... keep up the good work there.. stick it to "The Man", don't eat their overpriced nasty popcorn?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    DS78, 12 Jun 2008 @ 11:03am


    I seem to have read recently that the amount of popping corn grown compared to the amount corn (yes they are two different species) is extremely small. How could they find enough farmers that grow popping corn to actually sign off on this. Or maybe that's the trick....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    sonofdot, 12 Jun 2008 @ 11:38am

    Re: Really?

    The trick is that most people don't know that popping corn is different than regular corn. The hosebag who made the statement is either keenly aware that most people don't know the difference (so they think his argument makes sense), or he doesn't know the difference himself. I suspect the latter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Iron Chef, 12 Jun 2008 @ 6:41pm

    Corn farming is over-rated

    You can get Free Popcorn at Muvico Theaters.

    "But how do you make up for the lost profit center?" you may ask.

    Simple. The experience has value-adds such as babysitter service dinner, and mixed drinks, among other things, which are extra.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Brian, 12 Jun 2008 @ 7:30pm

    This is barely related to the topic at hand, but it's a wonder why anyone buys anything at movie theaters. Over here it's $10.50/ticket, and a plain hot dog costs $5. Popcorn ranges from $3.50-$6.

    What's worse is that the major local theater allows people to bring in food and drink from the neighboring shops, which include at least six fast food and/or cheap take-out, a Starbucks, several nice restaurants and two convenience stores. I could spend $3 on a six-pack and throw away what I don't drink, or spend $5+ on one crappy watered-down soda at the theater.

    So let's do the math here... $20+/person buying at a theater, or $13-15/person shopping fifty ft. away for more food that you can comfortably eat in two hours.

    What theaters need to do is to take some advice from Vegas and start selling fairly moderately-priced liquor. Sneaking beer in can be a pain, and sometimes I'd prefer a nice cocktail.

    Anyway, /tangent.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    judith bruno, 22 Jun 2008 @ 11:42pm



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    I took this decision because I do not have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not inclined to helping poor persons and I do not want my husband's hard earned money to be misused or spent in the manner in which my late husband did not specify. I do not want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly manner.
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    4: YOUR FAX NO:=======

    What is required of you is your honesty, trust and sincerity. Any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing for another individual for this same purpose.
    May God Almighty bless you.
    Judith Bruno (Mrs)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    jbodden, 9 Sep 2008 @ 10:08am

    Re: greetings

    I would be happy to use magic marker on the toe of my boot and put all of my personal information in Mrs. Brunos 'inbox'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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