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[eccr] The Weekly Spin, Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Wed Aug 25 15:01:40 GMT 2004

THE WEEKLY SPIN, Wednesday, August 25, 2004
sponsored by the Center for Media and Democracy (
The Weekly Spin features selected news summaries with links to 
further information about current public relations campaigns. 
It is emailed free each Wednesday to subscribers. 

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1. Disinfopedia versus Swift Boat Vets and Other  Front Groups
2. Secret Justice
3. SLICK - The Novel
4. Secondhand Smoke Screen
5. Bush Campaign Grabs For Iraqi Gold
6. Full Court Press Release
7. Got the Big Stick; Need to Learn to Speak Softly
8. Vietnam, Re-revisited
9. Media "Bigfeet" Stumble
10. For Whom the Firm Polls
11. Perks for Peaceful Protesters
12. Growing Market Opposition to GMO Referenda

  Last year we launched the Disinfopedia, a "wiki" website designed
  to mobilize hundreds of volunteers to help us investigate and
  expose front groups and propaganda campaigns. The Disinfopedia is
  an experiment in participatory investigative journalism, and the
  experiment seems to be succeeding. One recent example is the
  Disinfopedia listing for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Not only is
  the Disinfopeda entry on the group extensive, up to date and well
  documented, it's being widely read by thousands daily and it
  appears at or near the top in Google. There will always be
  propaganda and deception, but Disinfopedia is proving a powerful
  tool for getting to the truth. We invite you to help us to
  research, edit and write the Disinfopedia; click here to learn how
  to get started.
More web links related to this story are available at:
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  After nearly three years of confinement at Guantanamo Bay,
  Australian national David Hicks goes on trial for alleged terrorism
  before a U.S. military court. "There'll be no pictures allowed of
  David Hicks, no audio from the courtroom, no pictures of the
  defence, prosecution or presiding officer entering the building,
  and military camera operators will choose what images are broadcast
  via closed circuit television to most journalists covering the
  hearing," reports the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  According to reporter Leigh Sales, some of the restrictions on
  press coverage "are bizarre and have no parallel. For example,
  journalists in the courtroom can't use phone lines to file stories
  during breaks in the proceedings. If you get up to go to the
  toilet, you are then barred from the courtroom for the rest of the
  day. ... Another restriction here, is that no sound or pictures
  whatsoever will be taken of the military commissions, even though
  they're one of the most important legal aspects of the Bush
  administration's war on terrorism, and the first proceedings of
  this kind since the Second World War."
SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, August 24, 2004
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  Check out the new book SLICK by first-time novelist Daniel Price.
  SLICK's anti-hero protagonist, Scott Singer, works "in the field of
  perception management, although the less colorful term is 'media
  manipulation.' We're the CIA of PR, the sublime little gremlins who
  live just outside your senses, selling you products and concepts
  without you even knowing. ... I've conspired with the gun people,
  schemed with the liquor people, toiled for tobacco, and moiled for
  Monsanto. I've pushed polluters and promoted porn. I've shilled for
  Shell and lied for Tide. I've helped a major pharmaceutical company
  sell a drug that does nothing by promoting a disease that doesn't
  exist. And that's just the old stuff on my resume." Daniel Price is
  both a brilliant novelist and a sharp media critic who also
  publishes, a website "dedicated to analyzing
  the tricks, kinks and quirks of America's corporate news media." 
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  A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine
  finds that Philip Morris attempted to influence media coverage of
  secondhand smoke. Citing internal industry documents, the study's
  author, Dr. Richard Hunt, says the company and its PR firm,
  Burson-Marsteller, made "a controversy out of secondhand smoke when
  there wasn't any." Hurt also said Philip Morris gave "hundreds of
  thousands of dollars" to training programs at the Herndon, VA-based
  National Journalism Center. "Hurt said the funds went to support
  speakers who would discount research on the dangers of secondhand
  smoke," PR Week writes. "They also backed an internship program to
  place reporters who supported the tobacco industry's position, Hurt
SOURCE: PR Week (sub req'd), August 23, 2004
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  George W. Bush's re-election campaign has been accused of
  appropriating the Olympics for political means. A recent
  Bush/Cheney advertisement that links Iraq's and Afghanistan's
  participation in the Olympic games with the White House's "war on
  terror" is drawing criticism. "To the embarrassment of their media
  handlers in Athens, members of the Iraqi football team have reacted
  furiously to the news that their efforts are being used to aid Mr
  Bush's efforts to win a second term in the White House," The
  Guardian reports. The team's coach, Adnan Hamd, told Sports
  Illustrated magazine, "My problem is not with the American people.
  They are with what America has done; destroyed everything. The
  American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom
  when I go to the stadium and there are shootings on the road?" The
  Guardian is also reporting that Bush may be "planning to visit
  Athens later this week to watch some sporting events, including a
  potential gold-medal winning bid by the Iraqi football team."
SOURCE: The Guardian (UK), August 23, 2004
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  "Over the past few weeks of Presidential WrestleMania MMIV, the
  Bush campaign has fired off more than a dozen press releases about
  John Kerry's policies on energy, nuclear-waste storage, forest and
  water protections, and other environmental issues - a hodgepodge of
  smears, exaggerations, and obfuscations intended to besmirch
  Kerry's pro-environment reputation," Grist Magazine's Amanda
  Griscom writes. Polls indicate that swing-state voters are
  concerned about things like pollution and wilderness conservation,
  prompting the Bush campaign to "neutralize" the environment as an
  election issue. "They know they can't persuade voters that Bush is
  good on the environment, so they're trying to create enough
  confusion about Kerry's record that people decide it can't be the
  issue that decides their vote," said Carl Pope, Sierra Club
  executive director. "Most of the Bush team's environment-related
  releases rely on one of two tired claims - that Kerry is a
  flip-flopper, or that creating jobs and protecting the environment
  are incompatible goals," Griscom writes.
SOURCE: Alternet, August 20, 2004
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  Condoleezza Rice admitted, "We are obviously not very well
  organized for the side of public diplomacy." The 9/11 Commission
  warned, "If the United States does not act aggressively to define
  itself in the Islamic world, the extremists will gladly do the job
  for us." Former State Department diplomacy head Margaret Tutwiler
  said, "Public diplomacy need[s] to be seriously prioritized on an
  equal level with an aircraft carriers." State Department Cultural
  Affairs head Patricia Harrison described ongoing efforts: "'good
  news' stories on reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan [for]
  American and foreign news," an Iraq sister-city program, support
  for the Iraqi National Symphony, and donating "thousands of
  wheelchairs to Iraq, Morocco, Jordan, Oman and other areas of the
  Arab world."
SOURCE: Washington Post, August 20, 2004
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  John Kerry called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group "a front
  for the Bush campaign." The New York Times' in-depth report on the
  group finds "a web of connections to the Bush family, high-profile
  Texas political figures and President Bush's chief political aide,
  Karl Rove. ... The group received the bulk of its initial financing
  from two men with ties to the president and his family - one a
  longtime political associate of Mr. Rove's, the other a trustee of
  the foundation for Mr. Bush's father's presidential library. A
  Texas publicist who once helped prepare Mr. Bush's father for his
  debate when he was running for vice president provided them with
  strategic advice. And the group's television commercial was
  produced by the same team that made the devastating ad mocking
  Michael S. Dukakis in an oversized tank helmet when he and Mr.
  Bush's father faced off in the 1988 presidential election. ... On
  close examination, the accounts of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
  prove to be riddled with inconsistencies."
SOURCE: New York Times, August 20, 2004
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  "Although we're not yet through the national conventions, 2004 is
  emerging as a snakebitten election for America's media 'Bigfeet' -
  our news organizations and TV's non-stop talking heads," writes
  Joel Connelly. "They've been wrong so much of the time already."
  During the Democratic primaries, the punditocracy erroneously
  anointed Howard Dean the frontrunner; more recently, they've
  largely ignored the worsening mess in Iraq while declaring that
  Iraq is putting Kerry on the defensive. Why are the big media doing
  such a poor job? Connelly says it's because "they're rich," "they
  pursue trivia," and "they're tempted" by a 24-hour news cycle that
  is driving journalistic standards out the window.
SOURCE: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 20, 2004
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10. FOR WHOM THE FIRM POLLS,1280,-4433912,00.html
  The U.S.-based "strategic market research firm" Penn, Schoen &
  Berland is under scrutiny in Venezuela. The firm's polling
  erroneously predicted that President Hugo Chavez lost a recall
  referendum; the opposition "insists [the poll] shows the results of
  the vote itself were fraudulent." Moreover, poll "results ... were
  sent out by fax and e-mail to media outlets and opposition offices
  more than four hours before polls closed," in violation of
  Venezuelan law. The fact that "members of Sumate, a Venezuelan
  group that helped organize the recall initiative, [did] the
  fieldwork for the poll," has also raised questions; Sumate received
  U.S. National Endowment for Democracy funding "to encourage
  participation in the referendum."
SOURCE: Associated Press, August 19, 2004
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  "In a PR appeasement attempt, NYC & Company, the city's official
  tourism-marketing organization, has offered incentives to
  Republican National Convention protestors who will protest
  peacefully," writes PR Week. Participating restaurants, museums,
  hotels and shops called the "Peaceful Political Activists" campaign
  "a good business decision." United for Peace and Justice, which is
  seeking a protest permit for Central Park, called it a publicity
  stunt. The director of the business consortium Sensible Priorities,
  who developed the campaign, said, "I'm afraid this Central Park
  thing is really going to blow up." Across from the press conference
  announcing the campaign, "four members of Code Pink, a women's
  protest group, were arrested for trying to dangle a 40-foot-long
  banner from their ninth-floor [hotel] window."
SOURCE: PR Week (reg. req'd), August 18, 2004
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  "Worried that county bans on biotech crops could spread throughout
  the state, mainstream farm groups from the California Cattlemen's
  Association to the national Farm Bureau are marshaling their
  resources," reports the Sacramento Bee. The California Rice
  Commission is "developing a 'communications plan' to influence
  Butte [County] voters along with a backup litigation plan in case
  the [anti-biotech] measure passes." Following votes to ban biotech
  crops in California's Mendocino and Trinity counties, "biotech
  backers are widely rumored to be shopping legislation that would
  stop counties from regulating biotech crops. Even the U.S.
  Department of Agriculture ... reportedly is scouring county
  initiatives to build a legal case against them."
SOURCE: Sacramento Bee, August 16, 2004
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