Utilizing a common critique of protesters, Russian President Putin suggested that those individuals opposing alleged election fraud had been paid by some unnamed opposition force. It is common for opposition to movements to deny the grassroots elements of mobilization in favor of a protest origin story that suggests people only protest when elites pay them to do so. In the past Putin himself, Syrian President Assad, and the Myanmar junta implicated the United States in organizing and paying for protests.
Recently inside the United States people across the political spectrum have also suggested that liberal or conservative elites have paid for protests. Liberals claimed that Tea Party protester organizations portrayed as grassroots had corporate sponsors including the Koch brothers. Conservatives have claimed that Hispanic Occupy protesters in D.C. have been paid by liberal tenants’ rights organizations (see also a discussion of a Craigslist ad offering to pay Occupy Wall Street protesters). Although some claims of pay-for-protest are founded, in all cases there are other protesters whose protest was motivated by other factors besides immediate monetary gain.
This framing of protesters as uninterested & paid actors contradicts movements’ claims of widespread support. But, does it work/Is there evidence that this frame resonates in a population? If not, why is this such a common frame?