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PR Watch: THE WEEKLY SPIN

THE WEEKLY SPIN, May 17, 2006

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THIS WEEK'S NEWS

== BLOG POSTINGS ==
1. New additions to Congresspedia
2. Food Flack Nation Attacks Journalist Eric Schlosser

== SPIN OF THE DAY ==
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

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== BLOG POSTINGS ==

1. NEW ADDITIONS TO CONGRESSPEDIA
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:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4802

2. FOOD FLACK NATION ATTACKS JOURNALIST ERIC SCHLOSSER
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:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4800

== SPIN OF THE DAY ==

1. ALL THE WORLD NEWS THAT DIDN'T GET PRINTED
http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=33238
  "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:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4810

2. HHS MOVES CLOSER TO DROWNING IN A BATHTUB
http://www.odwyerpr.com/members/0516dhhs.htm
  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:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4809

3. AFTER CONGRESS, K STREET BEATS MAIN STREET
http://thehill.com/thehill/export/TheHill/Business/051606_brief.html
  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:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4808

4. BIG TOBACCO LOBBYISTS SEEK TO AXE TEXAS TAXES
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/051206dnte
xtobaccolobby.223e4e1e.html
  "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:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4806

5. AANRS: AUSTRALIAN AUDIO NEWS RELEASES
http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s1639005.htm
  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:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4805

6. ALASKA SPENDS COOL $3 MILLION ON ARCTIC OIL CAMPAIGN
http://www.prweek.com/uk/news/article/558738/Pac-West+prepares+oil+explorati
on+push+AK/
  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:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4804

7. WAL-MART SEEKS BOOSTERS AMONG BIZ PARTNERS
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/12/business/12walmart.html
  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:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4801

8. SPINNING (AND UNSPINNING) NUCLEAR POWER WORLDWIDE
http://www.boston.com/news/local/connecticut/articles/2006/05/09/nuclear_ind
ustry_adopts_new_policies_on_radioactive_water/
  "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:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4797

9. THE WAR ON TERROR MEETS THE WAR ON DRUGS
http://www.odwyerpr.com/members/0511afghan.htm
  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:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4795

10. FAKE TV NEWS SHOW COVERS FAKE TV NEWS REPORT
http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_daily_show/videos/lewis_black/index.j
html
  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:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4794

11. CHEMICAL ASSOCIATION'S PR TO MAKE YOU SAFER
http://www.americanchemistry.com/s_acc/bin.asp?CID=206&DID=2033&DOC=FILE.PDF
  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:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4792

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The Weekly Spin is compiled by staff and volunteers at the Center
for Media and Democracy (CMD), a nonprofit public interest
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Daily updates and news from past weeks can be found in the "Spin of
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that invites anyone (including you) to contribute and edit
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PR Watch, Spin of the Day, the Weekly Spin and SourceWatch are
projects of the Center for Media & Democracy, a nonprofit
organization that offers investigative reporting on the public
relations industry. We help the public recognize manipulative and
misleading PR practices by exposing the activities of secretive,
little-known propaganda-for-hire firms that work to control
political debates and public opinion. Please send any questions or
suggestions about our publications to:
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