The biz blog The Big Picture highlights this new report from Playboy [emphasis added]:
What we discovered is that [Rick] Santelli's "rant" was not at all spontaneous as his alleged fans claim, but rather it was a carefully-planned trigger for the anti-Obama campaign. In PR terms, his February 19th call for a "Chicago Tea Party" was the launch event of a carefully organized and sophisticated PR campaign, on in which Santelli served a Chicago frontman, using the CNBC airwaves for publicity, for some of the craziest and sleaziest rightwing oligarch clans this country has ever produced. Namely, the Koch family, the multibilllionaire owners of the largest private corporation in America, and funders of scores of rightwing thinktanks and advocacy groups, from the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine to FreedomWorks. The scion of the Koch family, Fred Koch, was a co-founder of the notorious extremist-rightwing John Birch Society."
The Big Picture concludes correctly, "This is now a very serious charge...if any of it is true, well then, Santelli may have to fall on his sword, and CNBC may owe the public an apology."
UPDATE: John Amato has more at Crooks and Liars.