Archive for April 2005

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[eccr] The Weekly Spin, April 27, 2005

Wed Apr 27 16:07:11 GMT 2005

>THE WEEKLY SPIN, April 27, 2005
>sponsored by the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy
>To support our work now online visit:
>The Weekly Spin features selected news summaries with links to
>further information about media, political spin and propaganda.
>It is emailed free each Wednesday to subscribers.
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>1. How Green is Camouflage?
>2. Bush Wins Earth Day Greenwashing Award (If There Were One)
>3. A Bumper Crop of Government-Produced "News": The USDA's Broadcast Media 
>and Technology Center
>1. Rules Enforced; Marketers Unhappy
>2. Firm Opens New Blogistan Embassy
>3. Living Off the Fat of the Land
>4. Knowing Who Butters Their Bread
>5. Defensive Reporting or Offensively Fake News?
>6. Britain's Nuclear Option
>7. Terrorism's Up, But Who's Counting?
>8. Pentagon Seeks New Information Warriors
>9. Before Sunset
>10. How to Fake Your Own Town Hall
>11. Pouring Gas Money on Fire
>12. They Want You for the New Recruit
>13. Fleishman-Hillard's Glass Half Empty
>14. Scoundrels Denying Refuge
>by Laura Miller
>   The U.S. Army celebrated Earth Day this year with a special campaign
>   called "Sustaining the Environment for a Secure Future." The
>   effort's website features links to an Army Earth Day message, an
>   Army Earth Day video promo, computer screen wallpaper, and a
>   commemorative poster.
>        "We are a nation at war. The need to protect our homeland has
>   never been clearer," the Army's message states. "The Armyâ¬"s
>   Strategy for the Environment establishes a long-range vision that
>   focuses efforts that sustain our mission. For success in the global
>   war on terrorism we must carry out our responsibilities for the
>   long-term. The land, air, and water resources we work and train on
>   are vital to both our present and future missions. We must use those
>   resources wisely in a manner that reflects our devotion to duty and
>   respect for the needs of tomorrowâ¬"s Soldiers."
>        The Army's message may be in response to last October's budget
>   cuts from environmental projects on military bases, a consequence of
>   Iraq war funding priorities.
>For the rest of this story, visit:
>by John Stauber
>   The greens are getting pounded politically, losing almost every
>   national battle they fight, including the new energy bill. Today, on
>   the 35th anniversary of Earth Day, they can't even beat George Bush
>   at the PR game.
>        Thirty-five years ago 20 million Americans demonstrated,
>   rallied, teach-in'd, lobbied, danced and partied for a healthy,
>   ecologically sound planet on the very first Earth Day. This
>   unprecedented and massive grassroots mobilization was followed by a
>   flurry of green political reforms (supported by many Republicans),
>   from the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency to the
>   first Environmental Impact Statements and the first national clean
>   air and clean water laws. Now, even though surveys show
>   enviromentalism is more widespread and popular than ever, with
>   citizens donating hundreds of millions of dollars each year to
>   Washington DC's big green groups, the movement is a political basket
>   case.
>For the rest of this story, visit:
>by Diane Farsetta
>   "Beef trade with Japan and Canada was on the minds of producers at
>   the annual National Cattlemen's Beef Association convention in San
>   Antonio, Texas," a man's voice intones, as the television news
>   segment opens with a shot of a slowly rotating sign reading "U.S.
>   Premium Beef." The voice continues, "Agriculture Secretary Mike
>   Johanns addressed the gathering and afterward took questions from
>   the media."
>        The two-minute news piece examines trade issues surrounding
>   bovine spongiform encephalopathy, better known as BSE or mad cow
>   disease. Since the December 2003 discovery of a BSE-infected cow in
>   Washington state, Japan has banned U.S. beef. In the February 10,
>   2005 TV segment, recently-appointed Secretary Johanns says he is
>   "anxious to continue the effort [to lobby Japan] and reopen the
>   border."
>        Beef trade between the United States and Canada has also been
>   restricted - by the United States, this time - since the first
>   BSE-infected Canadian cow was discovered in May 2003. The TV segment
>   shows Johanns warning, with regard to U.S.-Canadian negotiations,
>   "If we just tangle trade up in any way that isn't based upon risk
>   analysis and science and all of the things I've talked about, then
>   where's our protection with another country? Devastating trade is
>   devastating to agriculture."
>For the rest of this story, visit:
>   Perhaps due to the Vioxx and teen antidepressant scandals, "the Food
>   and Drug Administration is pelting drugmakers with letters warning
>   that they have run afoul of promotional regulations." Advertising
>   Age writes that the FDA's actions are "threatening to tip the $4
>   billion direct-to-consumer industry into a full-blown crisis." The
>   FDA has warned nine companies so far in 2005, compared to 12 in 2004
>   and five in 2003. "DTC ads account for nearly a third of the
>   advertising on the major broadcast network's nightly news programs,"
>   notes AdAge. "This is not a crackdown, it's enforcement," said
>   Thomas Abrams, the head of FDA's Division of Drug Marketing,
>   Advertising and Communication. "We're prepared to take whatever
>   action necessary to stop misleading promotion."
>SOURCE: Advertising Age, April 25, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   Following similar interest from media moguls and PR firms, the
>   consulting firm Issue Dynamics, Inc. "has launched a formal Blogger
>   Relations Practice and a companion website,
>"; According to its press release,
>   IDI has already provided "blogger relations" services to "Fortune 50
>   corporations, national trade associations, advocacy groups and
>   political party committees." Journalist and blogger Dan Gillmor
>   noted that, "as eWeek reported in February, a subsidiary of the firm
>   issued a report denouncing municipal wireless installations without
>   making clear that big telecom firms, which vehemently oppose
>   municipal wireless systems, are among the firm's chief funders. ...
>   Readers need to know who's behind the opinions, so they can make
>   better judgments about what - and whom - they can trust."
>SOURCE: Issue Dynamics, Inc. press release, April 26, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   The Center for Consumer Freedom, an industry-funded front group,
>   launched a $600,000 ad campaign decrying the "hype" around obesity.
>   CCF's Mike Burita, who admitted that restaurant chains "are
>   predominant sources of funding for us," said the group hopes the ads
>   will put "pressure on the leadership of the CDC." A recent Centers
>   for Disease Control study estimated 25,814 annual obesity-related
>   deaths in the United States, down from earlier estimates of 365,000.
>   "The science around computing mortality associated with obesity is
>   still evolving," said a CDC spokesperson, adding that the two
>   estimates "really can't" be compared. The Philadelphia Inquirer
>   reported that food industry lobbyists are "putting a full-court
>   press on state legislatures and Congress to stop lawsuits that claim
>   plaintiffs' weight problems are linked to the food they ate at a
>   particular restaurant." These so-called "cheeseburger bills" have
>   been enacted in 16 states, with 26 more considering similar
>   measures.
>SOURCE: Reuters, April 26, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   The Federal Communications Commission's warning that broadcasters
>   should disclose the origin of some video news releases (VNRs) has
>   the fake news business in a lather. Kevin Foley, the president of
>   KEF Media, told PR Week that "the government has no business
>   sticking its nose into news or communications as we practice it here
>   ... The FCC has no jurisdiction over news and news content." Richard
>   Edelman, the president and CEO of the PR company Edelman, conceded
>   that disclosing government VNRs "in some way" was reasonable.
>   However, Edelman draws the line at labeling corporate VNRs, the bulk
>   of those produced. "I do not believe in the need for government to
>   put a black box on any VNR that's produced for a company," he said.
>SOURCE: PR Week (sub. req'd.) April 25, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   "When the government creates a cable channel that reminds viewers of
>   a news network, down to the live Pentagon briefings and interviews
>   with Washington big shots, is it a form of propaganda or just a
>   savvy way to communicate with the troops?" the Christian Science
>   Monitor asks, about the Pentagon Channel. Launched last May with $6
>   million in taxpayer funds, the Pentagon Channel is broadcast on
>   military bases, public cable and the Internet. While
>   "military-sponsored news reports are hardly anything new," the
>   Pentagon Channel is widely available, "ostensibly so reservists and
>   military families can watch it." Senior producer Scott Howe says,
>   "We are an advocate of the Department of Defense and its voice. We
>   obviously don't air speculation out in the civilian media that
>   questions what the department is doing or its motives." To
>   communications professor Ralph Begleiter, "They're not journalists.
>   They're salesmen."
>SOURCE: Christian Science Monitor, April 25, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   The British government "is drawing up secret plans to create a new
>   generation of nuclear power stations." However, "Tony Blair wants to
>   avoid discussing the issue until after the election," scheduled for
>   May 5. A "senior insider" said of a committee studying the potential
>   role of nuclear energy in addressing global warming, "They are
>   carefully framing the questions to get the answer they want." The
>   Observer reports, "Two of Britain's most senior scientific experts
>   yesterday denounced government ministers for favouring PR spin over
>   serious scientific advice when dealing with nuclear waste disposal."
>   Professor David Ball and Keith Baverstock say the government's
>   Committee on Radioactive Waste Management "wasted 17 months
>   pretending to consult the public" on such improbable scenarios as
>   burying nuclear waste under ice or launching it into space. "It is
>   barking mad to consider nuclear power as part of a sustainable
>   energy policy," said a Green Party spokesperson.
>SOURCE: The Independent, April 23, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   For the first time in 20 years, the U.S. government will not be
>   publishing Patterns of Global Terrorism, a Congressionally-mandated
>   report from the U.S. Department of State intended to provide a full
>   and complete record of countries and groups involved in
>   international terrorism. Last year, the Bush administration was
>   embarrassed when the report tallied 175 significant terrorist
>   attacks - the highest number in two decades, contradicting the
>   administration's claim that it is winning the war on terrorism.
>   According to U.S. intelligence officials, this year's numbers are
>   far worse - 625 attacks, or nearly four times the amount of last
>   year's embarrassment. In a State Department briefing, spokesman
>   Richard Boucher said the department plans to issue a different
>   report, with the statistics omitted. The numbers would be released
>   someday, Boucher said, but "I don't know when."
>SOURCE: Knight Ridder, April 15, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) is "fostering competition" for a
>   "lucrative contract to analyze foreign media coverage and handle
>   strategic communications for its operations and the so-called global
>   war on terrorism," reports O'Dwyer's. The work involves tracking
>   "media in broadcast, print and online in Arabic, Urdu Pashtu" and
>   other languages, as well as "building databases of key communicators
>   and media outlets, analyzing the perception of U.S. actions and
>   communication, and identifying vulnerabilities." The contract
>   requires the PR firm to provide staff "on a 24/7 schedule during
>   critical periods." The secretive Rendon Group, "the Pentagon's go-to
>   firm for military PR," currently holds the $8.2 million contract,
>   which 56 of its employees work on. STRATCOM hopes to award the new
>   contract this summer.
>SOURCE: O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub. req'd.), April 22, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   A little-noticed proposal in the 2,000 page federal budget "would
>   give the president the power to appoint an eight-member panel called
>   the 'Sunset Commission.'" The commission would "review federal
>   programs every ten years and decide whether they should be
>   eliminated. Any programs that are not 'producing results,' in the
>   eyes of the commission, would 'automatically terminate unless the
>   Congress took action.'" Even the Environmental Protection Agency or
>   Food and Drug Administration could be axed, on a "simple vote of
>   five commissioners" - not a high bar, since many commissioners would
>   likely be "lobbyists and executives from major corporations." The
>   Sunset Commission is the brainchild of Clay Johnson, who's already
>   "helped place industry champions ... throughout the government." It
>   was first mentioned publicly by the ExxonMobil-funded think tank,
>   the Mercatus Center.
>SOURCE: Rolling Stone, May 5, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   Once again, a parody news segment on Comedy Central's "The Daily
>   Show" is offering better journalism than much of what you'll find
>   coming from "real" newsrooms. CC's Samantha Bee interviews
>   Republican media strategist Frank Luntz for advice on how to create
>   her own fake town hall meetings, like the ones that President Bush
>   has been using to promote his Social security privatization scheme.
>   "A real town hall can be very dangerous if it gets out of control,"
>   Luntz explains. "A town hall where the speaker cannot command the
>   respect and the control of the audience can look very bad on
>   television. ... To me the most important component of a successful
>   town hall is the visual, is the backdrop." And the audience itself
>   is part of the backdrop, Luntz explains as he reviews footage from
>   an actual Bush town hall video: "There he's got an African-American,
>   he's got an Asian, there's your female he's got. It's one of
>   everybody. It's almost like the rainbow wedding line."
>SOURCE: Comedy Central, April 19, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   "No company appears to be working harder to support those who debunk
>   global warming" than ExxonMobil, writes Chris Mooney. "Some 40
>   ExxonMobil-funded organizations ... have sought to undermine
>   mainstream scientific findings on global climate change or have
>   maintained affiliations with a small group of 'skeptic' scientists
>   who continue to do so." From 2000 to 2003, ExxonMobil gave $8.7
>   million to such SourceWatch favorites as the American Council on
>   Science and Health, Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Capital
>   Research Center, Heartland Institute, International Policy Network,
>   Mercatus Center, National Center for Public Policy Research, Tech
>   Central Station, and groups associated with Steve Milloy (the full
>   list is here). As an American Petroleum Institute memo stated,
>   "Victory will be achieved when ... recognition of uncertainty [about
>   global warming] becomes part of the 'conventional wisdom.'"
>SOURCE: Mother Jones, May / June 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   In an "uncharacteristically aggressive recruitment effort," the U.S.
>   Army National Guard is launching a new campaign, called "The
>   American Soldier." The campaign includes "sending eight mobile
>   information and recruitment centers (with another 12 in production)
>   to sporting events and shopping malls across the country, increasing
>   direct mailings to three times annually, and signing a sponsorship
>   deal with NASCAR driver Greg Biffle," reports PR Week. "The days
>   when someone would see an ad and then go to a recruitment office may
>   be gone," said Lt. Col. Mike Jones. The Guard is also widening its
>   target audience beyond high school students, to "college, junior
>   college and vocational-technical school students." The Guard's 2005
>   marketing budget is $38 million, though "an additional $26 million
>   will be asked for through supplemental requests," according to
>   Jones.
>SOURCE: PR Week (sub. req'd.), April 20, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   Fleishman-Hillard "agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle a lawsuit"
>   brought against it by the city of Los Angeles, which claimed the
>   firm "defrauded city departments by inflating monthly bills." The
>   firm will pay $5.5 million to the Department of Water and Power, the
>   main contract in question, with the remainder going to city agencies
>   "that oversee the airports, harbor and visitors bureau."
>   Fleishman-Hillard wanted to avoid "damage to its reputation and
>   business in the event of a trial." An internal memo obtained by PR
>   Week stated, "This is a significant payment, substantially more than
>   the amount of questioned billing, but our firm's reputation for
>   honesty and integrity is a vital business asset."
>SOURCE: Associated Press, April 20, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   "Despite conducting a high-profile campaign calling for tough
>   controls on immigration," the British Conservative Party is "using a
>   company employing low-paid foreigners to distribute campaign
>   literature," reports The Independent. Across the pond, Governor
>   Arnold Schwarzenegger suggested at the Newspaper Association of
>   America's annual meeting, "Close the borders in California and all
>   across Mexico and in the United States." A spokesperson later said
>   the governor supports "greater security," not border closure. On
>   April 23, right-wing talk radio hosts, including Blanquita Cullum,
>   Roger Hedgecock and Melanie Morgan, also of Move America Forward,
>   will travel to Washington, DC. The event, called "Hold Their Feet to
>   the Fire," will support "legislation that would strengthen our
>   borders and keep illegal immigrants from getting driver's licenses."
>SOURCE: The Independent, April 20, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
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