Archive for May 2006

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[ecrea] The Weekly Spin, May 17, 2006

Wed May 17 15:47:47 GMT 2006

>THE WEEKLY SPIN, May 17, 2006
>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.
>Who do you know who might want to receive "The Weekly Spin"? Help
>us grow our subscriber list! Just forward this message to people
>you know, encouraging them to sign up at this link:
>1. New additions to Congresspedia
>2. Food Flack Nation Attacks Journalist Eric Schlosser
>1. All the World News that Didn't Get Printed
>2. HHS Moves Closer To Drowning in a Bathtub
>3. After Congress, K Street Beats Main Street
>4. Big Tobacco Lobbyists Seek To Axe Texas Taxes
>5. AANRs: Australian Audio News Releases
>6. Alaska Spends Cool $3 Million on Arctic Oil Campaign
>7. Wal-Mart Seeks Boosters Among Biz Partners
>8. Spinning (and Unspinning) Nuclear Power Worldwide
>9. The War on Terror Meets the War on Drugs
>10. Fake TV News Show Covers Fake TV News Report
>11. Chemical Association's PR To Make You Safer
>by Conor Kenny
>   It's been a busy week on Congresspedia. New additions to the site
>   include:
>      * lots of contributions by members of the
>   Congresspedia/SourceWatch community on bribery scandals, new
>   legislation, heavyweight corporate campaign contributors, censuring
>   the president and federal investigations into an "improper
>   relationship" with a lobbyist (see full list)
>      * a new page on the Colbert Report with links to the videos of
>   each of his "Better Know a District" member of Congress interviews
>      * and a fancy new tool for looking up your particular member of
>   Congress by your home address.
>        Also well worth checking out is the muckraking action over at
>   the Sunlight Foundation blogs. The new Congresspedia article
>   contributions include:
>For the rest of this story, visit:
>by John Stauber
>   "Fast Food Nation" mega-selling author Eric Schlosser must be doing
>   something right. He's under vicious attack from food industry
>   lobbyists and front groups mimicking his book title in their website
>   smearing him. Fleishman-Hillard's Becky Johnson and her fellow
>   flustered food flacks risk publicizing Schlosser's writings in their
>   over-the-top efforts to condemn him.
>        The industrial food lobby is freaking-out over "Chew On This",
>   his new book with Charles Wilson aimed at youngsters, and the fact
>   that his "Fast Food Nation" is being made into a major Hollywood
>   movie with the same title. Best Food Nation is the food industry's
>   sound-alike  website funded by the American Farm Bureau Federation,
>   American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen's Beef Association,
>   National Council of Chain Restaurants, and 14 other food lobbies.
>   The website highlights anti-Schlosser rants by industry-funded front
>   groups including Heartland Institute and the American Council on
>   Science and Health.
>For the rest of this story, visit:
>   "Every year, the U.N.'s Department of Public Information (DPI)
>   unveils its list of the world's 10 most under-reported stories,"
>   reports IPS. This year's list, released May 15, includes Liberia's
>   post-war reconstruction, upcoming elections in the Democratic
>   Republic of Congo, children affected by conflict in Nepal, drought
>   and war in Somalia, problems with tsunami relief efforts, successful
>   efforts to resolve conflicts over water resources, renewed violence
>   in Cote d'Ivoire, and the many challenges facing refugees and asylum
>   seekers. UN DPI head Shashi Tharoor blamed the "if it bleeds it
>   leads" media phenomenon. "Development issues can make good stories
>   too," he said, calling on "readers, viewers and listeners" to "let
>   editors know that they'd like to see more of such stories." This
>   year, Malaysia, which chairs the 114-member Non-Aligned Movement,
>   launched the Non-Aligned News Network. Tharoor said the new network
>   had the potential to broaden world news coverage.
>SOURCE: Inter Press Service news, May 15, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   One of twelve units of the U.S. Department of Health and Human
>   Services is contemplating outsourcing its communications office,
>   reports O'Dwyer's. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is
>   collecting "proposals from PR firms that can handle its public
>   affairs, publishing, research and web operations." The firm would
>   replace the agency's Office of Communications and Knowledge
>   Transfer, which employs 32 full-time staff. (Current staff would be
>   offered the "'right of first refusal' to outsourced jobs for which
>   they are qualified.") The agency's move follows Office of Management
>   and Budget guidelines, which say "'commercial activities' performed
>   by government workers should be subject to competition when
>   possible." The agency carries out an annual report on healthcare
>   quality in each U.S. state, and recently reported that alcohol
>   abuse-related problems cost $2 billion a year in hospital costs.
>SOURCE: O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), May 16, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   Part of the Washington DC government-industry revolving door has
>   been quantified: 318 former members of Congress currently lobby
>   their former colleagues, according to a new report by
>   PoliticalMoneyLine. They include former Rep. Billy Tauzin, now head
>   of the Pharamaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; former
>   Sen. John Breaux, now at Patton Boggs; former Sen. Don Nickles, who
>   started his own lobbying firm; and former Rep. Jack Quinn, now a
>   vice-president at Cassidy & Associates. Quinn told The Hill, "I was
>   never someone who thought 'lobbyist' was a dirty word."
>   PoliticalMoneyLine's website lists the clients of former
>   official-turned-lobbyist William Lowery. His friend, current Rep.
>   Jerry Lewis, has been accused of steering government contracts to
>   Lowery's clients.
>SOURCE: The Hill, May 16, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   "Big Tobacco's toughest fight in years is being waged by a band of
>   highly paid, talented and experienced former legislators, political
>   appointees and close friends of the most powerful people in Texas.
>   They're fighting an uphill battle with such finesse that they're
>   actually, occasionally, winning," reports Karen Brooks. At issue is
>   a state measure to increase cigarette taxes by one dollar per pack.
>   Lobbyists retained by Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds include Governor
>   Rick Perry's former chief of staff, Texas' former secretary of state
>   and former state legislators. Their arguments against the tax
>   increase include that it will hurt retailers and that for
>   "working-class people who can't afford to get away ... having a
>   smoke is their version of a vacation." Tobacco companies are also
>   running radio ads that are "offensive," "demeaning" and
>   "condescending," according to one state senator, who pledged to
>   oppose the industry-backed countermeasures after hearing the ads.
>SOURCE: The Dallas Morning News, May 12, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   The Australian TV show Mediawatch notes our study on video news
>   releases and goes on to report, "We haven't found any examples as
>   bad as that on Australian TV, but the radio equivalent -- the audio
>   news release -- has definitely arrived." Mediawatch tracked one ANR,
>   paid for by Telstra and produced and distributed by Professional
>   Public Relations, that was aired by radio stations in Dubbo and
>   Canberra. Another ANR, promoting a security company's fire alarms,
>   was distributed by Media Game and aired by radio stations in Wagga
>   and Young. "Under resourced news services that don't have time to do
>   their own stories are the most vulnerable to PR strategies," notes
>   Mediawatch. "Which means real local news is pushed aside for phoney
>   corporate spin."
>SOURCE: Mediawatch, ABC Television (Australia), May 15, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   The government of Alaska has signed a $3 million contract with the
>   Oregon-based PR firm Pac/ West Communications, for a campaign
>   promoting oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
>   (ANWR). Pac/West president and CEO Paul Phillips told PR Week that
>   market research is currently being conducted on where "the issue
>   sits with the American people, with all the other discussion about
>   energy floating around these days." The Alaskan government also
>   allocated $750,000 for lobbying, in addition to the efforts of the
>   business lobby group, Arctic Power. Pac/West staff are busy on other
>   campaigns, too. Former timber industry lobbyist and current Pac/West
>   director Tim Wigley is the campaign director of the Save Our Species
>   Alliance, which aims to weaken the provisions of the U.S. Endangered
>   Species Act.
>SOURCE: PR Week (sub req'd), May 11, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   The Wal-Mart-launched and -funded advocacy group, Working Families
>   for Wal-Mart, is recruiting "Wal-Mart suppliers to join the public
>   relations offensive -- a move that some vendors say puts improper
>   pressure on them," reports Michael Barbaro. While Working Families
>   for Wal-Mart "describes itself as autonomous ... at least half of
>   the steering committee's members have business ties to Wal-Mart" or
>   the group itself. Examples are Andrew Young, whose consulting firm
>   works for the group, and Terry Nelson, a former Bush campaign
>   director whose firm consults for both the group and Wal-Mart. The
>   recruiting effort "challenges Wal-Mart's longstanding policy of
>   keeping suppliers at arm's length and shows how eager the company is
>   to fend off a well-organized union-backed campaign critical of its
>   wages and benefits," notes Barbaro. A Wal-Mart spokesperson said,
>   "There is no tie between joining Working Families for Wal-Mart and a
>   supplier's ability to do business" with the retail giant.
>SOURCE: New York Times, May 12, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   "The nuclear industry took steps ... to head off a growing public
>   relations -- if not health -- problem, promising to closely monitor
>   leaks of slightly radioactive groundwater at power plants," reports
>   AP. "Water containing tritium has been released into groundwater at
>   half a dozen plants over the past decade," including in Illinois,
>   Arizona and New York. The industry group Nuclear Energy Institute is
>   launching "a voluntary program to closely monitor such leaks." A
>   recent AlterNet article describes the Global Nuclear Energy
>   Partnership, an industry / Bush administration plan to "dramatically
>   expand nuclear energy production at home, encourage new nuclear
>   generation abroad and import other countries' spent fuel for
>   reprocessing in the United States." And a new website by our
>   European colleagues at SpinWatch, called Nuclear Spin, tracks "key
>   pro-nuclear advocates in the UK," where the government's energy
>   review was criticized as window dressing for plans to expand nuclear
>   power.
>SOURCE: Associated Press, May 10, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   Hill & Knowlton will head "a complex $3.8M PR effort" for the U.S.
>   State Department, "targeting Afghan citizens and stakeholder groups
>   to dissuade Afghan farmers from cultivating poppies and boosting
>   global drug trade." Poppy production has soared since the 2001 U.S.
>   invasion. Afghanistan provided 86 percent of the world's heroin in
>   2005, and "planting has significantly increased in 2006," according
>   to a State Department official. Hill & Knowlton will "deploy
>   communications through seven Afghan provinces" and "build
>   capability" within the Agriculture, Interior and Counter-narcotics
>   Ministries, by providing "communications professionals" and
>   developing each ministry's own communications office. "Foreign and
>   domestic media will be brought along" on poppy eradication missions,
>   and "alternative livelihood efforts" will be promoted in the PR
>   campaign. Current messages include, "Growing poppies is against
>   Islam and harmful for the reputation of Afghanistan." Previous
>   U.S.-funded PR work, by the Rendon Group and others, has been called
>   costly and ineffective by Afghan officials.
>SOURCE: O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), May 11, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   We're happy to say that the premier U.S. fake news show covered our
>   report, "Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed." On May 10, Daily
>   Show commentator Lewis Black held forth on video news releases
>   (VNRs), showing footage from the Stiefel Laboratories VNR promoting
>   its new prescription-strength skin cream (better for your skin than
>   sitting in a tub of ranch dressing, said Black) and from the Siemens
>   VNR touting the "ethanol boom." Considering Medialink Worldwide
>   publicist Kate Brookes -- who appeared on screen on at least four TV
>   stations that aired that VNR, as though she were a reporter -- Black
>   suggested that, like ethanol, she could be considered a renewable
>   resource. Hmmm... we never thought of it quite like that.
>SOURCE: The Daily Show, May 10, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   The American Chemistry Council wants you to know that you're safer
>   than you may think when toxic chemicals end up in your local
>   groundwater and air. ACC has announced the hire of ex-Environmental
>   Protection Agency spokesperson Lisa Harrison as its new vice
>   president of communications. Says Ms. Harrison, in celebrating her
>   new position: "I am excited at the challenge of educating and
>   informing opinion leaders about the benefits of American chemistry
>   in our every day lives, and the value that the industry and the ACC
>   bring to Washington D.C." Among her Administration appearances:
>   defending the EPA's "Clear Skies" program that exaggerated cuts in
>   airborne sulfur dioxide emissions and defending toxic sludge. A few
>   days before Harrison joined ACC, the organization released a new
>   defense of the Bush Administration's proposed rollback of the Toxics
>   Release Inventory. The Environmental Working Group has led a
>   blistering critique of the proposed rollbacks.
>SOURCE: American Chemistry Council, April 26, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
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>PR Watch, Spin of the Day, the Weekly Spin and SourceWatch are
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Carpentier Nico (Phd)
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