Does it matter who the messenger is?

There’s a very public PR campaign (full page ads in today’s New York Times, billboards in Times Square) attacking PETA. Click on their website and hit about us, and you’ll find a link. Two more clicks and you find:

The Center for Consumer Freedom is supported by restaurants, food
companies and more than 1,000 concerned individuals. From farm to fork,
our friends and supporters include businesses, employees and consumers.

The Wikipedia article sheds a bit more light, pointing out that a cigarette company was the initial sponsor of the group and that fast food restaurants are funders as well. Millions of dollars worth of funding from a few giant corporations.

Pre-internet, there really was no chance that people would discover that what appears to be a grass-roots organization is actually corporate-sponsored group that funnels money to a single individual and his lobbying/consulting firm. My favorite part of the ‘Center’s’ website is this line: Who funds you guys? How about some "full disclosure"? followed by no disclosure at all.

My point has nothing to do with how you feel about transfats, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, second-hand cigarette smoke or PETA, and everything to do with how the identity of the idea-spreader influences how you think about the idea.