The PJ Tatler

Occupiers Now Turning To Lies

Actually, this may not be a new development, but it sure looks like they’re upping their game on bald-faced lies:

Protesters also turned their attention to the offices of Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon.  The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is listed as a sponsor of ALEC’s 2011 conference, but the company targeted by protesters today, Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon, isn’t listed as a member.

That didn’t stop Occupiers from targeting the company in a trick pulled straight from the Yes Men playbook.

On Tuesday a man stood up in front of the Blue Cross Oregon headquarters on Southwest Market Street and announced to the crowd of 1,000 marchers that he was “Joseph Hill, director of public relations.”

He then announced the Blue Cross Oregon would resign from ALEC.

“Equal access to health care is a human right,” Hill said, telling the crowd that ALEC had been trying for two years to undermine federal health care reform.

He later gave interviews to news stations and papers from around the city and appeared to have an assistant holding an umbrella over his head. He claimed to have “run out” of business cards.

Okay, first off, they targeted the wrong company. That might have been deliberate, but it honestly could have been a simple mistake, so I’ll give them a conditional pass on that one. (Below is an explanation of the relationship of Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.)

However, the bald-faced lie is when Mr. Hill, or whatever his real name is, said he was the director of public relations, and making an announcement regarding Regence’s future activities. I’m not a lawyer, but I wonder if that could be considered fraud or another crime or tort. Any lawyers here want to weigh in on that one?

I’m sure he — and the supporters of the occupiers — will try to weasel out of it by saying he never said he was Regence’s director of public relations, but standing in front of the building, wearing a suit (see the image on the main Tatler page), and proclaiming what the company’s policy would be sure seems to make that argument a hard sell. Clearly he intended to try to fool people into thinking he was the company’s Director of Public Relations.

Speaking of whom, the real deal spoke out later:

Scott Burton, Blue Cross Oregon’s actual director of public relations, says the company isn’t going to retaliate but wanted to set the record straight.

It put out a press release this afternoon explaining the hoax:

This afternoon in front of the Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon headquarters, a member of the public purporting to be a spokesperson for Regence made statements about our company’s ties and connections to the American Legislative Exchange Council. This individual does not represent our organization. To make the facts clear, our company is not a member of ALEC and as such, we cannot resign from this organization’s membership rolls. We appreciate the public’s right to organize and exercise their right to free speech; however we’d like to take this opportunity to correct the record.

Burton explained that Blue Cross Oregon’s relationship to the Blue Cross Association is akin to the Trail Blazers’ relationship with the NBA: it’s an independent company that is simply under the branded umbrella of the association.

I’d ask if the occupiers have no shame, but by this time it’s clear they don’t.