Grassroots Or Astroturf? Signs At ‘Mega Mosque’ Protest Were Pre-Printed (VIDEO)

Conservatives are having fun with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s suggestion that there is some sort of conspiracy uniting the opponents of the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero, but a closer look at some of the early protests suggests at least some coordination.

Check out the video embedded below, footage from a June protest that you’ve probably seen many times on television in recent days.

Organizers of the protest boasted 10,000 people and say their energy triggered an increase in coverage. What struck us about the footage were the pre-printed signs condemning what opponents call a “mega mosque.” Many had the Web address for Pamela Geller’s anti-Muslim group Stop Islamization of America printed right on them.Here’s one example:

A handful of the signs had SIOA’s Web site blacked out.

During health care protests, pre-printed signs indicated bigger groups were behind events designed to look grassroots. No big deal, until you consider what the main organizers told Politico recently about distancing themselves from Geller. Ben Smith writes:

Geller clearly did play the central role in inflaming the conservative grass roots against the plan, but a parallel political and media campaign against the mosque has deliberately kept its distance from her. Its key organizer — as Maggie and I reported — is Allen Roth, a political aide to Ron Lauder (acting, though, on his own), who told me last week that he hadn’t communicated with Geller once in the process.

In this Politico piece, the reporters explain that Roth “and other mainstream figures have worked to insulate it from more radical anti-Islamic voices, like blogger Pamela Geller, who might marginalize the cause.” Yet she’s still considered one of the most prominent voices.

I asked Geller in a lengthy interview yesterday how much she’d been coordinating with outside groups and politicians. She was vague and wouldn’t answer my question about coordinating with Roth and others directly, saying “millions” of people had stepped forward from “all over the world.”

She said she made “a couple of signs,” adding that “everybody had their own signs.”

Geller says an even larger crowd is expected for the next “mosque” protest — on Sept. 11 — and has linked on her site to a caravan of opponents from the West Coast.

Her list of speakers for the 9/11 rally at first sounds pretty mainstream, though both Gingrich and Thomas already have denied being speakers.

The confirmed list of speakers includes 9/11 family members; former U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; the Dutch Parliamentarian and freedom fighter Geert Wilders; Gary Berntsen, a candidate for the U.S. Senate from New York; Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, which has filed suit to stop the Ground Zero mega-mosque; Ginny Thomas, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife; Michael Grimm, a candidate for Congress from New York’s 13th district and a 9/11 first responder; and journalist Andrew Breitbart.

Here’s a few scenes from the June rally: