Section 2 of "The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law"
The right-wing foundations described in Section 1 fund a coordinated network of advocacy organizations, providing general operating support rather than funding narrowly-focused programs. At the center of this network are multi-issue, e.g., tort reform, school privatization, pro-life, etc., think tanks that are marketing and communications organizations, oriented aggressively toward media relations and public communications, as well as traditional scholarly idea generating institutions. Because they address a variety of issues from the same philosophical perspective, the think tanks are able to advance an underlying ideological agenda.
"We believe that ideas have consequences, but that those ideas must be promoted aggressively. So, we constantly try innovative ways to market our ideas."
-Heritage Foundation Website
These right-wing organizations function as an infrastructure that translates the ideas and policies of ideological think tanks into influential language, and then repeatedly disseminates those messages to the general public through a variety of communications channels. For example, the Washington Legal Foundation, which is a leading proponent of "shaping public policy through aggressive litigation [when in favor of the Right's goals] and advocacy," writes that their
broad-based communications outreach program disseminates our free enterprise message through print and electronic media, public education advertising campaigns, and on-site seminars and briefings. 
The Right's organizations use sophisticated marketing methods to "translate" -- packaging ideas to appeal to people's deeper feelings and values -- and disseminate messages designed to alter underlying public opinions to be supportive of their shared ideology. Even single words or phrases, selected for their effectiveness, are shared by multiple voices to reinforce the right wing message. (See Appendix 1)
This in turn leads to public support for their organizations and ideology, puts public pressure on legislators to support their issues, and elects public officials who support their agenda and appoint judges and agency officials who carry out their policies.
The National Center for Policy Analysis prides itself on aggressively marketing its products for maximum impact by "targeting key political leaders and special interest groups, establishing ongoing ties with members of the print and electronic media, and testifying before Congress, federal agencies, state lawmakers, and national associations."
- from National Committee for Responsive Philanthrophy's study, "The Strategic Philanthropy of Conservative Foundations" 
When it comes to tort reform, the strategy has been remarkably consistent. Conservative "think tanks" publish research that backs up the "tort reform" movement's claims and develop "talking points" for distribution to speakers, pundits, writers and the media. Other organizations provide trained speakers for radio and television programs. Still others publish magazine articles, op-ed pieces, and books based on the research from the think tanks. Some organizations work to discredit opponents. Others work to disparage the legal profession in the public mind. Yet others spread misleading stories about what they call lawsuit abuse. (See Appendix 3) All of this is designed to weaken trial lawyers and liability lawsuits, while simultaneously garnering support for tort reform.
In sum, tort reform messages are amplified by the Right's communication machine. Because conservative movement organizations share the same basic ideology, they are able to validate and leverage each other's work, creating a multiplier effect. This enables them to operate as a message amplification infrastructure, which has been referred to as "The Mighty Wurlitzer." To the public, it appears that there are many diverse voices from a number of independent organizations and media outlets, giving the appearance of a widespread consensus of opinion. In truth the messages come from a core group using its network of advocacy organizations as an echo chamber, making one voice sound like many.
"Politics is about persuading large numbers of people."
The Right's message amplification infrastructure has a broad reach, repeating coordinated strategic messages through multiple communication channels: conservative talk radio, Fox News, Internet sites like the Drudge Report, op-ed pieces in newspapers across the country, prefab letters-to-the-editor, books, pundits and columnists, talking points distributed to politicians and public speakers, advertisements, and newspapers like the Washington Times and Wall Street Journal.
The result, if you listen closely, is that the same words and phrases magically appear in multiple media at approximately the same time. Staying on message is a skill well-honed by the proponents of tort reform.
The tort-reform movement even utilizes such innovative messaging channels as sponsoring highschool essay contests on lawsuits. Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA), for example, encourages students to enter their essay contest by offering, "cash prizes in the amounts of $1000, $500 and $250 to finalists selected by a distinguished panel of elected officials, attorneys, and other civic leaders."
"The essay," CALA writes, "may include any of the following discussion points:
1) Define Lawsuit Abuse.
2) Give 2-3 examples of frivolous (abusive) lawsuits.
3) Discuss why some people & their lawyers file frivolous lawsuits.
4) Determine if jury service has any affect on stopping lawsuit abuse and/or
5) Determine if lawsuit abuse undermines principles of individual responsibility."
In effect, such organizations are using public institutions to promote and legitimize an attorney-bashing agenda, while simultaneously propagandizing a new generation.
The Right's messaging infrastructure draws effectively on communication techniques from the fields of marketing, public relations, and corporate image-management. They package their messages to appeal to people's deeper feelings and values, and they have refined their communication techniques and vocabularies to motivate their potential supporters effectively. Both the industry-sponsored "tort reform" organizations and right-wing groups coordinate their messaging to increase their effectiveness. (See Appendix 1)
The right-wing Manhattan Institute's Center for Legal Policy (CLP)'s captures perfectly the marketing and message-dissemination capabilities of right-wing think tanks.
The CLP's mission is to communicate thoughtful ideas on civil justice reform to real decision makers. The Center fulfills this mission by publishing general-interest books and academic volumes; white papers, reports and op-eds; and a forum series on civil justice issues. The CLP also holds conferences and seminars for policy-makers, judges and journalists; CLP senior fellows make frequent radio, television and public appearances and have testified before both houses of Congress; and Senior Fellow Walter Olson manages a website, overlawyered.com, with daily updates and incisive commentary on the effects of "overlawyering" on American business and society.
The communication efforts of numerous state Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) organizations, coordinated by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA), are described in the Center for Justice and Democracy's report, "The CALA Files:"
The CALAs' strategy and message has been coordinated by ATRA and its public relations consultant APCO & Associates, which supply the groups with strategic guidance, media training, and pre-produced radio, television, print advertising and billboards designed for maximum media exposure and legislative impact. Other regional and national political consultants and polling firms help tailor the CALA message to local concerns.
One key to moving public opinion has been to create "conventional wisdom" through the constant repetition of simple messages through multiple channels over a long period of time. Two main examples are the claims that "Social Security is going broke" and that "public schools are failing." Both statements are at best questionable, yet both have been firmly embedded in the "public mind" by purposeful repetition in a variety of media outlets and communications venues.
Examples of conventional wisdom manufactured by the tort reform movement include:
- "Junk lawsuits" are "out of control," "strangling our legal system" and "crippling businesses."
- "Lawsuit abuse" "extorts money" from legitimate business.
- Trial lawyers are "greedy."
- The large numbers of "frivolous lawsuits" drive up insurance
Shaping conventional wisdom depends on following a long-term plan. The National Association of Manufacturers' Fair Litigation Action Group's (FLAG) website shows their understanding of the value of a long-term approach:
FLAG will work through the National Association of Manufacturers Legal Policy Issues Committee to initiate a broad multi-year awareness campaign [emphasis added] among NAM members and their employees, including more than 350 member associations located in all 50 states. The campaign will focus on the importance of fair liability laws and what legal reform measures are needed to achieve this goal.
- National Association of Manufacturers -- Fair Litigation Action Group (FLAG)
In a long-term approach, strategic messages are developed and repeated as steps toward the final goal. For example, first stories about ridiculous-sounding lawsuits are spread. Once "everyone knows" lawsuits are "frivolous" and "out of control," the public is barraged with messages about how these lawsuits are causing doctors to leave the profession. Only then does the movement introduce legislative "solutions."
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) stands as a compelling example of the political power that can result when the traditional business-oriented, single-issue organizations operate in conjunction with the multi-issue organizations of the Right. ALEC, founded in 1973 by Paul Weyrich, (also the founder of the Heritage Foundation), is a major player in state tort reform battles. ALEC develops legislation templates for tort reform laws being passed in several states. In a June, 2003, commentary Weyrich wrote:
Fortunately, we have the organization that is playing a vital role in advancing the conservative agenda where it works best -- the state and local level -- and this organization serves as our early radar system for detecting coming trends and concerns in public policy. . .
As an example of how the states can circumvent Washington gridlock, Parde says the votes in the U.S. Senate are just not there for substantive tort reform. But approximately a dozen states have used the model legislation developed by ALEC to provide some kind of relief from "jackpot justice," unwarranted settlements that are costly to consumers and businesses and medical practitioners.
In a recent commentary, Rep. Frank Mazur of Vermont, in describing ALEC's 2003 annual meeting, unwittingly reveals the strategic ideological interconnectedness of the Right:
In early August, I attended the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Washington, DC. ALEC is a national organization of legislators who are committed to the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, and individual liberty. Ninety-eight members of Congress are former ALEC members.
Over 2,700 participants attended the meeting including state and national leaders, senior business executives, leading public policy experts and members of the media. Vice President Richard Cheney, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, Colorado Governor Bill Owens, former Congressman J.C. Watts, Jr. and Washington, DC Mayor Anthony Williams headlined this annual meeting.
Over three days, twelve workshops were held on tort reform, homeland security, school choice, state budgets, prescription drugs Medicare/Medicaid reform and environmental health. Experts discussed and in some cases debated these issues and presented various views for legislators to consider in their states. 
In a report titled "Corporate America's Trojan Horse in the States, The Untold Story Behind the American Legislative Exchange Council," the Natural Resources Defense Council and Defenders of Wildlife state that "ALEC is little more than a tax-exempt screen for major US corporations and trade associations that use it to influence legislative activities at the state level." The report describes how, for a two-year $50 membership fee, state legislators are given "junkets to prime tourist destinations, . . . free or heavily subsidized trips that resemble vacations for their spouses and children, and an assortment of other fringe benefits." According to the report, ALEC also operates a Political Action Committee (ALEC-PAC) that gives contributions to state legislators. While ALEC describes itself as non-partisan, all the state legislators who serve as officers are Republicans, as are all but one of its 29 directors.
The right-wing movement has also taken to treating federal judges to all-expenses-paid seminars at luxury resorts and "educating" them about economics and free markets. (See Appendix 4, regarding the Law and Economics Center of George Mason University.) In a July, 2000, report titled "Nothing For Free: How Private Judicial Seminars Are Undermining Environmental Protections and Breaking the Public's Trust," the Community Rights Council examines the interest groups and right-wing foundations funding these junkets. According to the report, "the three organizations hosting the most trips . . . share a remarkably similar, and in some respects extreme, conservative/libertarian ideology."
The extremist Right and the tort reform movement are also working to elect politicians who will pass their legislation and judges who will ultimately rule in favor of the interests of the movement and its partners. The CALA Files report discussed efforts to elect state judges who will rule in favor of tort-reform advocates:
A principal focus since the mid-1990s has been to ensure the election of pro-industry state judges . . . The tobacco industry has also been involved in such elections, for example, in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Such activities also became a significant focus for ATRA [American Tort Reform Association] and APCO [APCO & Associates, a "grassroots" lobbying and PR firm] as well in the late 1990s as more and more state courts have struck down tort law restrictions.
A Dayton Daily News story further illustrates these efforts to elect state judges; it reports, "The fight is no more evident than in the campaign contributions for two seats on the Ohio Supreme Court. Whoever wins the seats Nov. 5 could be asked to judge whether capping jury awards in medical malpractice cases is constitutional." 
In Texas, the tort reform movement (with Enron's Ken Lay helping start "Texans for Lawsuit Reform," one of the first tort reform organizations) was instrumental in electing George W. Bush as governor of Texas, launching his political career.
The story is often told of how George W Bush came almost out of nowhere to win the Texas governorship in 1994 from a popular Democratic incumbent, Anne Richards. It is often explained in terms of Mr. Bush's optimistic never-say-die nature and his easy manner with ordinary Texans.
But it had a lot to do with one campaign pledge. "Probably the first and most important thing I will do when I am governor of this state," he promised, "is to insist Texas changes the tort laws and insist we end the frivolous and junk lawsuits that threaten our producers and crowd our courts.
- "How big money buys big votes in US race," Guardian Unlimited
Electing state judges -- and now appointing federal Judges -- is a key component of the strategy of both the Right and the tort reform movement. This potentially renders in-court legal arguments irrelevant.
The wins are key: In the mid-1990s, business persuaded lawmakers in several states to limit punitive damage awards, only to have the courts nullify the laws as unconstitutional. Sympathetic jurists would be less likely to reverse legal reforms the states passed.
- "Tort Reform: A Little Here, a Little There..." Business Week
Meanwhile, the Right and the tort reform movement are going on the offensive against anyone who might question their goals, including fellow conservatives. The core group that controls the right wing movement is attacking moderate Republicans, accusing them of ideological impurity, deriding them as "RINOs" (Republicans In Name Only), and even seeking to drive them from office and out of the party.
For their part, pro-tort reform corporate organizations are pressuring states by threatening to advise investors against investing in municipal bonds of states that do not limit punitive damage awards.
Meanwhile, the heavy hitters in the industry have come out swinging. At the Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc. (RIMS) conference in Chicago last month, AIG CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg came out in favor of a U.S. Chamber of Commerce scheme to target jackpot justice states by appealing to investors to not buy their municipal bonds.
- "Tort Reform Advocates Strike While Iron is Hot." Insurance Journal, May 5, 2003
These are just some of the simplistic and misleading messages that the tort-reform movement has spent vast amounts of time and money drumming into the public mind. As more and more people come to believe in the existence of these "problems," the "solutions" offered by right-wing politicians become increasingly appealing.