Archive for April 2003

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[eccr] fwd:The Weekly Spin, Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Wed Apr 23 17:13:22 GMT 2003

THE WEEKLY SPIN, Wednesday, April 23, 2003
sponsored by PR WATCH (
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1. CNN's Reliably Narrow Sources
2. BBC Biased In War Coverage
3. Corporations Co-opt Earth Day
4. George Bush, the 9/11 President, Plots His Re-Election
5. Rendon's War Is Peace
6. Pentagon Deals Out "PR Play of the Week"
7. From Muckrakers to Buckrakers
8. Saddam Did 9/11 --  The Big Lie Tactic Works Again
9. How the White House Won the Spin War at Home
10. Hybrid Cars Greenwash Japan's Truck & SUV Sales
11. Email Spoofing to Attack Activists
12. Pro-War Rally Gets PR Help
13. Burson-Marsteller Buffs Iraqi National Congress Image
14. Poetry Is Dangerous Again
15. Poster Boy for War
16. Neo-Nazi Hoax Exploits Iraqi War Bias
17. MSNBC & CNN Imitating the Far-Right 'Fox Effect'
18. Baseball, Tim Robbins, and Apple Pie
19. Iraqis Get US TV
20. Ex-FDA Head David Kessler Now a PR Flack for F-H
21. Saddam's Defeat Changes the Propaganda War

  The media watchdog FAIR/Extra! has studied the guestlist of CNN's
  Reliable Sources to see how many critical voices were heard on the
  program that claims to "turn a critical lens on the media."
  Covering one year of weekly programs, the FAIR study found that
  Reliable Sources strongly favored mainstream media insiders and
  right-leaning pundits. In addition, female critics were
  significantly underrepresented, and ethnic minority voices were
  almost non-existent.
SOURCE: FAIR, March/April 2003
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2. BBC BIASED IN WAR COVERAGE,3604,940770,00.html
  "The BBC was attacked by both sides over the Iraq war. It was the
  only news organisation apart from the Sun that was targeted by
  anti-war demonstrators, and senior managers apologised for the use
  of biased terms such as 'liberate' in their coverage. Meanwhile,
  ministers publicly criticised the BBC's alleged bias towards
  Baghdad," David Miller reports for the Guardian. "The BBC argued
  that criticism from all sides showed it must be getting something
  right. The empirical evidence, however, suggests a pro-war
  orientation. ... The BBC thus turned a blind eye to divisions in
  the [UK]. A study of coverage in five countries for the Frankfurter
  Allgemeine Zeitung shows that the BBC featured the lowest level of
  dissent of all. Its 2% total was even lower than the 7% found on
  the US channel ABC."
SOURCE: The Guardian, April 22, 2003
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  "Earth Day, which began 33 years ago today as a nationwide rally to
  clean up the planet, has become the latest victim of the corporate
  takeover. From Houston to Hong Kong, companies are seeking to
  polish their green image by sponsoring Earth Day events, which
  grass-roots groups and cities struggle to fund. This year, garbage
  haulers, coffee companies and even missile manufacturers are
  underwriting Earth Day festivities, a public relations strategy
  that has divided environmentalists and led to protests of Earth Day
  itself. ... Houston Earth Day 2003, held this past Saturday ... was
  made possible by a $15,000 donation by [Houston-headquartered]
  Waste Management. ... 'Waste Management sponsoring Earth Day is
  similar to Enron sponsoring a seminar on corporate responsibility,'
  said John Stauber, [co]author of Toxic Sludge is Good for You:
  Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry, which examined
  how companies disguised poor environmental records beneath glitzy
  green advertising and marketing." 
SOURCE: Houston Chronicle, April 22, 2003
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  President Bush's advisers, led by Karl Rove, are "planning a sprint
  of a campaign that would start, at least officially, with his
  acceptance speech at the Republican convention, a speech now set
  for Sept. 2 [2004]. ... Mr. Bush's advisers said they chose the
  date so the event would flow into the commemorations of the third
  anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. ... The
  strategy ... is intended to highlight what Mr. Bush's advisers want
  to be the main issue of his campaign, national security, while
  intensifying his already formidable fund-raising advantage in the
  general election campaign. ... Mr. Bush's advisers said they were
  wary of being portrayed as exploiting the trauma of Sept. 11, a
  perception that might be particularly difficult to rebut as Mr.
  Bush shuttles between political events at Madison Square Garden and
  memorial services at ground zero."
SOURCE: New York Times, April 22, 2003
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  The secretive Rendon Group, run by self-proclaimed "information
  warrior" John Rendon, has a long history of accompanying the CIA
  and Pentagon into battle. Now they have launched a project called
  "Empower Peace," through which they are calling on young people
  throughout the world to "help us develop an International Youth
  Pledge of Peace." Does this mean they've joined the anti-war
  protests? Not exactly. Empower Peace wants people "not to refer the
  current political situation going on in the world today but rather
  focus and emphasize on the importance of breaking down cultural
  barriers in order to achieve peace."
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  PR Week's "PR Play of the Week goes to the Pentagon's limited
  edition playing cards, which the trade publication described as
  "part troop diversion and part Most Wanted poster. The cards
  features the pictures of the of 55 top members of the fallen Iraqi
  regime. "The deck's unveiling in and of itself would have amounted
  to a smart PR move, as the reporters stationed at the briefing
  center have grown restless in recent weeks from the perceived lack
  of real information and news coming from [Brig. Gen. Vincent]
  Brooks' daily briefings, PR Week writes. "Nevertheless, besides
  providing the media with at least one story that day, the Iraqi
  rogues' gallery playing cards also seem to serve as a great
  communications tool on at least two levels. First, the deck served
  an immediate practical function by showing the troops what members
  of the Iraqi regime look like. Secondly, the cards' subtlety
  reinforced the notion that the Hussein regime was on the run, and
  the only major wartime task left was to round up the suspects.
  According to the Guardian,  the decks are being marketed in the
  U.S. for more than $100.
SOURCE: PR Week, April 21, 2003
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  Three decades after their stories in the Washington Post led to
  President Nixon's resignation, Watergate reporters Bob Woodward and
  Carl Bernstein have sold their notebooks and other materials from
  the Watergate years to the University of Texas at Austin for $5
  million. "Woodward and Bernstein have found a new way to buckrake,"
  comments Richard Blow. "While that may make them richer, it doesn't
  enrich the profession, or the regard in which the public holds it."
SOURCE:, April 21, 2003
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  Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels observed that "the bigger
  the lie, the more people will believe it." The Big Lie technique
  has worked well in Bush's war on Iraq. The New York Times reports
  that "organizers of the antiwar movement lament how well the
  administration argued that there was a link between Al Qaeda and
  Iraq, playing on Americans' residual anger and fear after the
  attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. About half the American public,
  according to several polls, believed that Saddam Hussein was
  personally involved in planning the attacks -- an argument the
  administration did not make." On the contrary, officials including
  Powell, Cheney and Bush, in tandem with Fox and other pro-war
  media, repeatedly linked Iraq to the 9/11 attacks, although there
  still exists no credible evidence for it. This is the essence of
  the Big Lie technique, when authorities repeat an outrageous
  falsehood until it is widely believed. Opinion polls and interviews
  with US troops show the effectiveness of the Big Lie.
SOURCE: New York Times, April 20, 2003
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  "The second Persian Gulf war was not only a runaway victory for the
  United States military, but for another aggressive force that fired
  off round-the-clock verbal cruise missiles: the White House
  communications operation. That is the assessment of the Bush
  administration's wartime public relations campaign by both its
  supporters and critics, who say the spin operation was
  extraordinarily successful in shaping a positive battlefield
  narrative, at least for American audiences. ... White House
  officials acknowledge that the communications effort in the Arab
  world largely failed... .'It's going to be a challenge,' Mr.
  Bartlett said." 
SOURCE: New York Times, April 20, 2003
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  "As the Ford Motor Company scaled back expectations this week for
  its first hybrid-powered vehicle and backpedaled on a pledge to
  improve the fuel economy of its sport utility vehicles, Toyota was
  introducing its latest Prius, which will get about 55 miles a
  gallon and be the first midsize vehicle with hybrid technology. For
  environmentalists, the contrasting developments reinforced the
  sense that only foreign carmakers care about curbing America's
  swelling appetite for oil. ... But the picture is also more
  complicated - and bleak, from the perspective of reducing oil
  consumption. Toyota, Honda and Nissan are are flooding the American
  market with S.U.V.'s of all sizes; Toyota and Nissan are redoubling
  efforts to take on the last largely unchallenged stronghold of
  Detroit, the pickup truck. And sales of new- model S.U.V.'s from
  Japan far outnumber gas-sipping hybrids." 
SOURCE: New York Times, April 19, 2003
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  "Arab-American activist Nawar Shora checked his e-mail one day and
  found scores of angry messages asking why he hated Americans and
  Jews," writes Anick Jesdanun. "The messages were responding to
  e-mails marked as coming from him. Only one big problem: he never
  sent the hate mail." Shora was the victim of a new form of
  harassment in which fake e-mail is sent using real addresses. "The
  tactic, known as e-mail spoofing, requires little technical
  know-how and no illegal computer break-ins. Yet it has caused a lot
  of trouble wasting time, damaging reputations and even leading to
  the suspension of e-mail accounts," Jesdanun writes. "Spoofing will
  only get worse as kids, pranksters and fired employees discover its
  ease. ... Little can be done to prevent it without completely
  reworking mail protocols."
SOURCE: Associated Press, April 18, 2003
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  "Shirley & Banister Public Affairs helped put together one of the
  largest pro-Bush rallies during the Iraq war on the National Mall
  in Washington, D.C., last Saturday, starring Republican
  heavyweights G. Gordon Liddy, former senator and actor Fred
  Thompson and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, among others,"
  O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. "The event, which drew between five and
  ten thousand people, was staged for longtime client Citizens United
  Foundation. ... The firm credentialed 60 reporters and landed
  coverage on NBC, ABC, CNN and in The Washington Post, The
  Washington Times and Associated Press." 
SOURCE: O'Dwyer's PR Daily, April 17, 2003
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  "Burson-Marsteller is working to buff the image of the Iraqi
  National Congress," O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. BKSH & Associates,
  Burson-Marsteller's lobbying wing is working for the Iraqi National
  Congress Support Foundation. With the assistance of the Pentagon,
  INC head Ahmad Chalabi and 'free Iraqi forces' arrived in Bagdad
  last week. Chalabi and the INC hope to be part of a new government
  in Iraq. "The Rendon Group worked closely with the INC during the
  `90s to drum up opposition to Hussein," O'Dwyer's reports. 
SOURCE: O'Dwyer's PR Daily, April 17, 2003
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  New Mexico high school teacher Bill Nevins is fighting a March 17
  suspension from his teaching job, after a student on his poetry
  team read an anti-war poem over the school's closed circuit TV
  system. School administrators have accused him of "permitting"
  students to participate in after-hours poetry contests at a local
  bookstore without school permission. (Kids these days. Why can't
  they just watch TV like decent folks?)
SOURCE: Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, April 17, 2003
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  Just when you thought American TV couldn't stoop any lower, now we
  have the plight of Ali Abbas, a 12-year-old Iraqi boy who lost both
  of his arms, along with his parents, three siblings and ten other
  relatives, in a missile strike on Baghdad. Now he has become "a
  redemption story, the kind we like," muses Joan Walsh. The U.S.
  military has flown him to Kuwait, where reporters are breathlessly
  following his medical treatment. "But some of the stories have
  tried to deal with an uncomfortable fact. Ali is, um, well, he's
  angry at the U.S. for killing his family," Walsh writes. "And
  American journalists have been flummoxed by how to report on his
  feelings." CNN hit bottom Wednesday morning, when anchor Kyra
  Phillips asked Ali's physician, "Doctor, does he understand why
  this war took place? Has he talked about Operation Iraqi Freedom
  and the meaning? Does he understand it?"
SOURCE:, April 17, 2003
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  An anti-Semitic web site called the "Barnes Report" is distributing
  fake whistleblower memos on media bias in the Iraq war that attempt
  to exploit public skepticism about the accuracy of U.S. news
  coverage. Excerpts from the alleged memos appear on a series of web
  pages titled "Controlling the News." The "memos" instruct reporters
  to avoid showing scenes of violence from the war and to stress
  images that depict U.S. policy in a favorable light. Peace
  activists tempted to believe the hoax should note that the "Barnes
  Report" is an anti-Semitic web site whose primary propaganda goal
  is disparagement of Jews and denial that the Nazi Holocaust ever
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  The New York Times reports on the 'Fox Effect' of MSNBC and CNN
  imitating Fox's vicious style of biased, nationalistic reporting.
  "...[I]t has been the Fox News Channel, owned by [Rupert Murdoch's]
  News Corporation, that has emerged as the most-watched source of
  cable news by far, with anchors and commentators who skewer the
  mainstream media, disparage the French and flay anybody else who
  questions President Bush's war effort. ... Fox's formula had
  already proved there were huge ratings in opinionated news with an
  America-first flair. But with 46 of the top 50 cable shows last
  week alone, Fox has brought prominence to a new sort of TV
  journalism that casts aside traditional notions of objectivity,
  holds contempt for dissent and eschews the skepticism of government
  at mainstream journalism's core. ... MSNBC's programming moves
  [imitating Fox's style] were welcomed by L. Brent Bozell III,
  founder of the Media Research Center."
SOURCE: New York Times, April 16, 2003
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  "A chill wind is blowing in this nation," actor Tim Robbins told
  the National Press Club. "A message is being sent through the White
  House and its allies in talk radio and Clear Channel and
  Cooperstown. If you oppose this administration, there can and will
  be ramifications." But Robbins, who was uninvited to the Baseball
  Hall of Fame in retaliation for his anti-war views, is optimistic.
  "It doesn't take much to shift the tide," he said. "Sportswriters
  across the country reacted with such overwhelming fury at the Hall
  of Fame that the president of the Hall admitted he made a mistake
  and Major League Baseball disavowed any connection to the actions
  of the Hall's president. A bully can be stopped, and so can a mob.
  It takes one person with the courage and a resolute voice."
SOURCE: Common Dreams, April 15, 2003
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  Iraqis with television reception can now turn on their sets and see
  a parade of new faces delivering the evening news: Dan Rather, Tom
  Brokaw, Peter Jennings, Jim Lehrer and Brit Hume. The news
  programming, called "Iraq and the World," is part of an ambitious
  effort that White House officials say will show Iraq what a free
  press looks like in a democracy. The U.S. backed news programming
  will also include stories by journalists working for Voice of
  America and Radio Sawa, which are also U.S. funded media. The Los
  Angeles Times reports, Norm Pattiz, the Los Angeles-based chairman
  of the Westwood One radio network, is spearheading the project.
  Critics of the U.S. propaganda effort say it may spark a backlash
  in a shellshocked society that is already deeply suspicious of
  American motives. "If we want to demonstrate the robustness of
  democracy, we should also be beaming in the BBC and half a dozen
  other sources of international news with this effort," said Marty
  Kaplan, associate dean at the USC Annenberg School for
  Communication. Initially the news programs will be broadcast
  several hours a day by a specially modified U.S. military plane
  called 'Commando Solo.' As soon as ground transmitters are set up,
  the U.S. will broadcast 24 hours a day. 
SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, April 15, 2003
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  The Fleishman-Hillard PR firm has announced hiring former Food &
  Drug Administration head Dr. David A. Kessler. Under Kessler the
  FDA served the biotechnology industry by adopting an anti-consumer
  policy of not requiring safety testing or labeling of genetically
  engineered food. "He will offer enormous insight and value to our
  clients," announced the PR firm whose recent clients include Abbott
  Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Baxter Healthcare, Bayer, Bristol-Myers
  Squibb, DuPont, ExxonMobil, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co.,
  Pharmacia, Procter & Gamble, Scripps Health, and Susan Komen Breast
  Cancer Foundation. Kessler becomes one of many politically
  connected, big name flacks working for F-H including Newt Gingrich,
  William S. Cohen, Mickey Kantor, General Barry R. McCaffrey and
  Leon Panetta.
SOURCE: PR Newswire, April 10, 2003
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  Zoltan Grossman writes that "As Saddam and his Ba'ath Party are
  quickly eliminated, the new occupying powers will also be
  dismantling their main rationale for occupation. They will not only
  be erasing their main propaganda points from the media's
  blackboard, but with the invaders' main job done, Iraqi civilians
  and neighboring Muslim states may quickly start asking them to
  leave Iraq. [W]ithout Saddam Hussein to kick around anymore, the
  Coalition has lost its most effective propaganda touchstone. It can
  no longer point to Saddam's atrocities as a rationale to stay in
  the country, particularly if it comes up empty-handed of
  biochemical weapons. The enthusiasm that U.S. and U.K. troops
  showed when toppling Saddam statues will not be as evident when
  they are pulling police duty to keep ethnic and religious groups
  apart. The claim that foreign troops need to prevent instability
  and civil war will ring hollow when their provocative presence
  becomes a reason for instability. ... The new American civil
  governor of Iraq, retired General Jay Garner, has been a strong
  advocate of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, so is
  precisely the wrong guy for the job."
SOURCE: Counterpunch, April 10, 2003
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