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PR Watch: The Weekly Spin

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The Weekly Spin features selected news summaries with links to
further information about media, political spin and propaganda. It
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THIS WEEK'S NEWS

== BLOG POSTINGS ==
1. Is "Vets for Freedom" A Republican Front Group ?
2. Scandals, Scandals, Scandals -- Part II: The Investigations
3. Technorati-Edelman Mashup

== SPIN OF THE DAY ==
1. Please tell CMD what you think!
2. Ready for Review:  The Best War Ever
3. Wal-Mart Fights Healthcare Bill with Fake News
4. Big Tobacco Attack Ads Blow Smoke in California
5. Coming Soon To a Theater Near You: Docuganda!
6. Know Your Fake Radio News
7. The Fork in the Road
8. Coal Miner Buys Support
9. Boosting Business With Nuclear Power
10. Will Philly PR Exec Turned Media Mogul Silence Liberty Bell?
11. Telecom Firms Dial Up Ad Spending
12. Not a PR Job for the Faint of Heart

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== BLOG POSTINGS ==

1. IS "VETS FOR FREEDOM" A REPUBLICAN FRONT GROUP ?
by John Stauber

  Who and what is behind the organization Vets for Freedom, a lobby
  group for staying the Administration's course in the war in Iraq?
  Contributors to our investigative website SourceWatch are wondering
  exactly that. The current article can be reached by clicking here on
  the name Vets for Freedom. The group has a feel good name -- how
  many vets are against freedom? -- but its supposedly non-partisan
  patriotic agenda is looking rather suspect. Will it become to the
  2006 Congressional elections what the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
  were in 2004? A Republican front for waging ad hominem attacks, this
  time on politicians like John Murtha who are calling for an end to
  the US occupation?
For the rest of this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4868

2. SCANDALS, SCANDALS, SCANDALS -- PART II: THE INVESTIGATIONS
by Conor Kenny

  Add new revelations that House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) may
  be under investigation by the Justice Department to the FBI¹s
  recent raids on Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), and you could be
  forgiven for not being able to keep track of the many members of
  Congress under investigation. At Congresspedia, however, we live and
  breathe this stuff, so we¹ve created a handy cheat sheet of all
  the members under investigation by the congressional ethics
  committees, law enforcement agencies and grand juries. The full list
  is below, but for future reference you can just check the ³Members
  of Congress under investigation² link in the ³Quick links²
  section—we'll make sure to keep it updated for you.
For the rest of this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4862

3. TECHNORATI-EDELMAN MASHUP
by Sheldon Rampton

  Technorati, the leading search engine devoted specifically to
  bloggers, has partnered with the Edelman PR firm. According to
  Technorati vice president Peter Hirshberg, Edelman is providing
  support for an "accelerated development effort" to create Technorati
  offerings in languages including Chinese, Korean, German, Italian
  and French. In exchange, says Edelman CEO Richard Edelman, his firm
  will get "an exclusive right to offer Technorati's analytic tools"
  in those languages.
       The result, he says, will give companies "world-wide reach" so
  they can find out what people are saying about them in different
  languages, and will give Edelman "the ability to improve our work
  product; specifically, to make PR people valued contributors to the
  discussion, not the often-reviled spinmeister or hype artist
  lampooned in the media."
For the rest of this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4859

== SPIN OF THE DAY ==

1. PLEASE TELL CMD WHAT YOU THINK!

  Please take a few minutes to take a survey about the Center for
  Media and Democracy. This is a chance for you to help us improve our
  effectiveness and incorporate your input as CMD plans for the
  future, refines our organizational identity, and develops a logo.
       Please click here to complete the survey now, or paste this
  link into your browser:
  http://survey.prwatch.org/public/survey.php?name=CMD_opinion_survey_6_06
 
       If you complete the survey by Wednesday, June 14th, you will be
  entered in a drawing to win a signed first-edition copy of Sheldon
  Rampton and John Stauber's next book, The Best War Ever, to be
  published September 14th.
       Thanks for your input!
SOURCE:
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4865

2. READY FOR REVIEW:  THE BEST WAR EVER
http://www.prwatch.org/books/tbwe
  Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber have finished writing The Best War
  Ever: Lies, Damned Lies and the Mess in Iraq. It is their sixth book
  together for the Center and a sequel to their 2003 bestseller
  Weapons of Mass Deception. If you review books or interview authors,
  please contact us to request a free advance review copy. Our new
  book won't be in stores until September, but you can place an
  advance order here. You can also view the book's provocative cover
  by cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, and read the chapter titles and the
  back-cover description which begins, "They told us so. The first
  authors to expose the blatant deceptions that got us into the Iraq
  War now reveal how the same lies have led us toward defeat. ... Now
  that even US generals agree that war critics were right in the first
  place, Rampton and Stauber show us how to wake up and not be misled
  again."
SOURCE: Center for Media and Democracy, June 5, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4866

3. WAL-MART FIGHTS HEALTHCARE BILL WITH FAKE NEWS
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/060602/nyf081.html?.v=46
  The radio segment begins, "As summer vacation season gets underway,
  high fuel prices and high air fares are limiting the ability of
  vacationers to travel far. And close to home, new legislation may
  force costs to soar even higher." The segment -- an audio news
  release (ANR) from Wal-Mart -- warns of proposed legislation in New
  York that would require large employers to put a minimum percentage
  of their payroll towards employee healthcare. The bill is one of
  dozens introduced in response to Wal-Mart employees' reliance on
  publicly-funded health programs. The ANR features Mark Alesse of New
  York's National Federation of Independent Business, who says that
  while "health insurance is vitally important," better coverage won't
  be accomplished by "adding an eight and a half billion dollar
  job-killing tax to the economy. If we do that, we'll not only have
  more uninsured, we'll have more unemployed" people. If you hear this
  ANR, please contact the Center for Media and Democracy!
SOURCE: PR Newswire, June 2, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4863

4. BIG TOBACCO ATTACK ADS BLOW SMOKE IN CALIFORNIA
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-horton2jun02,1,9238.story
  It's not surprising that big tobacco is funding attack ads around
  the primary election for California's State Board of Equalization,
  which regulates state cigarette sales and oversees $40 billion in
  tax collections. What is surprising is that the mailing, from a
  group called the California Political Empowerment Committee, accuses
  one candidate of "being a shill for Big Tobacco," according to the
  Los Angeles Times. The group has received at least $57,000 from
  Altria's Kraft subsidiary, Lorillard and UST. Its mailing targeted
  state Assemblywoman Judy Chu, saying she "accepted money from
  tobacco companies and then voted to reduce penalties on them for
  illegally selling cigarettes to minors." Chu is actually a "staunch
  foe of the industry and refuses to accept its campaign cash." Public
  health activists called the mailing "a cynical attempt to drive
  voters toward her opponent," state Assemblyman Jerome Horton, who is
  "one of the Legislature's biggest beneficiaries of tobacco money."
SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, June 2, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4857

5. COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU: DOCUGANDA!
http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0602/p01s02-ussc.html
  Several recent and forthcoming documentaries are, according to PR
  professionals, "docugandas." Those noted include "An Inconvenient
  Truth," which features Al Gore warning about global warming, last
  year's "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," "Enron: The Smartest
  Guys in the Room," and 2004's "Super Size Me," as well as the
  upcoming film "Who Killed the Electric Car?" "We need to clarify
  that this new wave of 'documentaries' are not, in fact,
  documentaries," says Christopher Ian Bennett of New School Media,
  a communications and public-relations firm in Vancouver. "They
  fail to meet the Oxford Dictionary definition, in that they
  editorialize, and opine far too much." Robert Greenwald, director
  of "Wal-Mart" and 2004's "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on
  Journalism" comes at it from a slightly different perspective. When
  asked whether he feels the need to present more than one side of an
  issue, Greenwald said, "Is it my job to tell the story that everyone
  is already getting over and over 24/7? I don't think so. In a
  democratic system you want to hear something that hasn't been told."
SOURCE: Christian Science Monitor, June 2, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4856

6. KNOW YOUR FAKE RADIO NEWS
http://www.prweek.com/us/search/article/559085/Media+relations+tips+options+
ANR+placement/
  In its "PR Toolbox" section, PR Week answers the question, "What is
  the difference between a guaranteed-placement ANR (audio news
  release) and a traditional one?" According to Maury Tobin of Tobin
  Communications, "Research indicates that most radio stations do not
  use ANRs." PR Week explains, "Some vendors offer
  guaranteed-placement ANRs -- or Sponsored Radio Features (SRFs). ...
  Unlike a traditional ANR, a guaranteed-placement one is certain to
  air because advertising time is purchased." Tobin adds that his firm
  "includes an indentification of the organization sponsoring the
  piece," for guaranteed-placement ANRs. "This is clear:
  Guaranteed-placement ANRs or SRFs would not exist if radio stations
  really ran traditional ANRs."
SOURCE: PR Week (sub req'd), May 22, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4854

7. THE FORK IN THE ROAD
http://www.edelman.com/speak_up/blog/archives/2006/05/the_fork_in_the.html
  "How serious is it for PR that the man who runs the foremost center
  for press and public policy in the US is fundamentally skeptical
  about our profession?" asks Richard Edelman, CEO of the Edelman PR
  firm. On his blog, Edelman reports on comments by Alex Jones of
  Harvard University's Shorenstein Center at a recent gathering of the
  PR Seminar, a rather secretive annual gathering of top PR
  executives. Jones said that news is moving away from objectivity, as
  "subjectivity, finding underserved markets, ideologically targeted,
  is a viable business strategy." The result is that we are "fast
  approaching a time of relative truths, resulting in an even more
  toxic partisan environment." Jones lamented the cheapening of news,
  saying that "media with reduced staff is looking for packaged
  content. The temptation will be high for PR people to do in print
  what has been done in video news releases." Edelman calls Jones'
  remarks a "very important speech" and calls on PR pros to "to
  recognize that with our enhanced opportunity comes a very real
  responsibility" to "be more credible" and adopt a policy of "total
  transparency." Maybe they should start by lifting the veil of
  secrecy that has shrouded PR Seminar events for more than half a
  century.
SOURCE: Edelman.com, May 30, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4850

8. COAL MINER BUYS SUPPORT
http://www.ethicalinvestor.com.au
  Private landowners who sell their land to Centennial Coal for a new
  coal mine in New South Wales have been offered an extra $25,000 if
  they sign contract provisions that require them to support the mine.
  One contract clause states that "the landholder must not in any way
  make any objection or complaint to any authority regarding the grant
  of project approval." Another clause states that the landowner "must
  do all things and sign all documents reasonably required by
  Centennial to support the grant of project approval." Asked what a
  landowner could be required to support, the Managing Director of
  Centennial Coal, Bob Cameron, retreated, stating, "There probably
  will be none. What we are saying, though, is that you cannot
  actively oppose the project, having entered into a contract."
SOURCE: Ethical Investor (Australia), June 1, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4849

9. BOOSTING BUSINESS WITH NUCLEAR POWER
http://afr.com/premium/articles/2006/05/31/1148956414914.html
  A report (PDF) prepared for the Australian Nuclear Science and
  Technology Organisation (ANSTO) by British nuclear proponent
  Professor John Gittus optimistically concluded that nuclear power in
  Australia would be cost-competitive with coal and gas. In a synopsis
  of his report Gittus is described only as "a consultant and adviser
  to government ministries, public bodies and private industry." But
  Australian Financial Review journalists Adrian Rollins and Julie
  Macken report, "Professor Gittus's Who's Who entry says he helps run
  Lloyd's of London Insurance Syndicate 1176, the biggest commercial
  insurer of nuclear power stations and other facilities in the
  world." ANSTO insures its small research reactor with Lloyd's of
  London. ANSTO defended Gittus from conflict of interest concerns
  stating that there were more details of Gittus's background "in
  Annex 12 of the main report." However, the full report, including
  Annex 12, has not been publicly released.
SOURCE: Australian Financial Review (sub req'd), June 1, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4848

10. WILL PHILLY PR EXEC TURNED MEDIA MOGUL SILENCE LIBERTY BELL?
http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/view.php?id=12286
  Philadelphia Weekly profiles Brian Tierney, the public relations and
  advertising executive who will be heading Philadelphia's former
  Knight-Ridder papers. As a PR man, "when reporters called his
  customers," Tierney "called the reporters -- and their editors."
  Reviewing Tierney's often-heated arguments with reporters on their
  coverage of the Philadelphia Orchestra, banking executives, and --
  most infamously -- the Catholic Church, Steve Volk writes, "The most
  disconcerting thing about his taking control of the [Philadelphia]
  Inquirer and Daily News may not even be Tierney's noted conservative
  tilt, which is considerable. ... What really has some people quaking
  is Tierney's unique diet, which for a time included journalists. For
  breakfast, lunch and dinner." Former Inquirer reporter Ralph
  Cipriano, whose story on the Catholic Diocese's questionable
  spending was squashed by the newspaper after Tierney's repeated
  contacts, said of Tierney, "He doesn't understand what reporters do,
  and more important, he doesn't think it should be done."
SOURCE: Philadelphia Weekly, May 31 - June 6, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4846

11. TELECOM FIRMS DIAL UP AD SPENDING
http://www.njtelecomupdate.com/lenya/telco/live/tb-LWCN1149016201609.html
  "Telecommunications companies are spending serious green on
  advertising in recent weeks," as several telecom-related bills,
  including on network neutrality, come before Congress. A study by
  Arlen Communications estimates that the U.S. Telecom Association,
  which "represents the majority of the Bell telecommunications
  firms," has spent $250,000 a week over six weeks. And SBC/AT&T has
  spent some $600,000 a week, according to Arlen. A U.S. Telecom
  executive would not comment on the numbers, but said TV ads have
  been effective in "the campaign to allow telecom companies to
  compete with cable companies for TV service." Ads on the network
  neutrality issue, which criticize "proposed legislation that would
  block telecom and cable companies from charging preferred customers
  higher rates for high-speed Internet access," are more recent. These
  ads have appeared "anywhere a congressional staffer is likely to be
  -- including the Washington area transit system" and "at
  Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport," and direct people to
  sites like Handsofftheinternet.com.
SOURCE: National Journal's Insider Update, May 31, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4845

12. NOT A PR JOB FOR THE FAINT OF HEART
http://www.odwyerpr.com/members/0531apco_merck.htm
  "APCO Worldwide is supporting Merck's PR efforts for the
  controversial" -- and deadly -- "arthritis drug Vioxx, which was
  found to increase heart attack risk in patients," reports O'Dwyer's.
  The PR boost comes as the pharmaceutical company "acknowledged that it misidentified a statistical method used in the study that led it to pull Vioxx from the market," reports the Wall Street Journal. The admission calls into question Merck's claim that patients were only at risk if they took Vioxx for 18 months or longer. Doctors who oversaw the study "are planning to release new data" that "show risk as soon as four months after taking the drug," according to O'Dwyer's. More than 11,000 Vioxx-related lawsuits have been filed against Merck. The company had retained Burson-Marsteller for a $20 million "image campaign," after withdrawing Vioxx in 2004.
SOURCE: O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), May 31, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4843

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The Weekly Spin is compiled by staff and volunteers at the Center
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Daily updates and news from past weeks can be found in the "Spin of
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