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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
is emailed free each Wednesday to subscribers.

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THIS WEEK'S NEWS

== BLOG POSTINGS ==
1. Confronted with Disclosure Demands, Fake News Moguls Cry "Censorship!"

== SPIN OF THE DAY ==
1. Big Dose Of PR For Pfizer
2. America's Slip is Showing
3. Big Tobacco's Covert Witness Program
4. How Big Tobacco 'Protects' Non-Smokers
5. Spinning to their Graves
6. Ann Coulter's PR Formula:  Hate Speech +  Media Coverage = Best-Seller
7. Antibiotic Trial Continues Despite Reported Threat to Children
8. Burson-Marsteller Lands Tuna Account
9. Red-Faced Broadcast Execs Resist Reform

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== BLOG POSTINGS ==

1. CONFRONTED WITH DISCLOSURE DEMANDS, FAKE NEWS MOGULS CRY "CENSORSHIP!"
by Diane Farsetta

  Be afraid, be very afraid! If television stations are required to
  abide by existing regulations and label the corporate and government
  propaganda they routinely pass off as "news," the First Amendment
  will be shredded, the freedom of the press repealed, and TV stations
  will collapse overnight!
       At least, that's what the public relations firms that produce
  and distribute video news releases (VNRs) and other forms of fake
  news would have you believe. PR firms are banding together and
  launching lobbying and PR campaigns to counter the growing call for
  full disclosure of VNRs, the sponsored video segments frequently
  aired by TV newsrooms as though they were independently-produced
  reports.
For the rest of this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4867

== SPIN OF THE DAY ==

1. BIG DOSE OF PR FOR PFIZER
http://www.odwyerpr.com/members/0613pfizer.htm
  Pfizer has hired Clark & Weinstock, a New York and Washington D.C.
  based "management consulting firm" that "specializes in reputation
  and crisis management" and "the development of business ethics and
  corporate responsibility programs." O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports that
  the company has been hired as a lobbyist "for general representation
  and issues concerning Medicare/Medicaid and pharmaceutical research
  & development." The 11-person team assigned to the account includes
  former Minnesota Republican Congressman, Vin Weber. Weber is also
  Chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy and a board member
  of both the Aspen Institute and Citizens Against Government Waste.
  He was also involved with the neo-conservative network, the Project
  for a New American Century. In mid-June two men announced they were
  suing Pfizer, alleging serious side effects from the
  anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor.
SOURCE: O'Dwyers PR Daily, June 13, 2006. (Sub req'd.)
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4882

2. AMERICA'S SLIP IS SHOWING
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/14/world/14pew.html
  "As the war in Iraq continues for a fourth year, the global image of
  America has slipped further, even among people in some countries
  closely allied with the United States," reports Brian Knowlton,
  citing a new opinion poll by the Pew Research Center. The poll found
  significant declines in esteem for the United States in countries
  including Spain, India, Russia, Indonesia and Turkey, and smaller
  declines in France, Germany and Jordan. "Obviously, when you get
  many more people saying that the U.S. presence in Iraq is a threat
  to world peace as say that about Iran, it's a measure of how much
  Iraq is sapping good will to the United States," said Pew president
  Andrew Kohut.
SOURCE: New York Times, June 14, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4881

3. BIG TOBACCO'S COVERT WITNESS PROGRAM
http://tobaccodocuments.org/landman/TI11871006-1025.html
  In a February 1989 speech to the Executive Committee of the
  now-defunct Tobacco Institute, the group's Senior Vice President,
  Charles Powers, sought to save the industry's covert "Scientific
  Witness" program from impending budget cuts. The program, he said,
  featured experts "who are our front line of defense in tax, public
  smoking and advertising hearings every day." Powers complained that
  "scientists will not buck for love" the scientific consensus on the
  link between environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and health impacts.
  "It takes money," he said. "The Institute can't do it and be taken
  seriously. We need people who have earned reputations as serious
  researchers...who can review and critique articles, publish and act
  as peer reviewers," he said. Powers estimated that it cost an
  average of $40,000 and took six weeks to identify and train a single
  expert.
SOURCE: Anne Landman's Collection, June 11, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4879

4. HOW BIG TOBACCO 'PROTECTS' NON-SMOKERS
http://www.charlotte.com/mld/observer/news/local/14799268.htm
  The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company has contributed $10,000 to an
  Arizona group, the Non-Smoker Protection Committee. The group is
  proposing a ballot initiative in favour of The Arizona Non-Smoker
  Protection Act which it claims would create "a balanced, reasonable,
  consistent, statewide non-smoking law, protecting minors and
  preserving private property rights." In fact, the initiative would
  overturn existing smoking bans in cities such as Tempe and would
  prevent other cities from instituting them. Dr. Leland Fairbanks, a
  retired doctor, told Associated Press that the name of the
  tobacco-friendly proposal has fooled some people into signing the
  petition supporting the initiative being placed on the
  ballot."There's a lot of deception going on," Fairbanks said. "Many
  people think they're signing the health one, but they're signing the
  R.J. Reynolds one. They're mad, and they should be." Tobacco control
  groups are proposing an alternative initiative, the Smoke-Free
  Arizona Act.
SOURCE: Charlotte Observer,  June 12, 2006.
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4877

5. SPINNING TO THEIR GRAVES
http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/washington-shrugs-off-guantanamo-suicides-as-merely-good-pr/2006/06/12/1149964470426.htmlhttp://www.smh.com.au/news/world/washington-shrugs-off-guantanamo-suicides-as-merely-good-pr/2006/06/12/1149964470426.html

  The three recent suicides by detainees at the Guantanamo Bay
  detention camp, referred to as "the gulag of our times" by
  Amnesty International, are apparently not what they would seem.
  Administration officials rejected suggestions the three had killed
  themselves out of despair at their indefinite confinement. "It
  does sound like this is part of a strategy in that they don't
  value their own lives - they certainly don't value ours and they
  use suicide bombings as a tactic," Colleen Graffy, the deputy
  assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy, told the BBC on
  Sunday. "Taking their own lives was not necessary, but it
  certainly is a good PR move to draw attention." The camp's
  commander, Rear Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., said the suicides were
  an al-Qaeda tactic. "They have no regard for life, neither ours
  nor their own," he said. "I believe this was not an act of
  desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."
SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald, June 13, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4876

6. ANN COULTER'S PR FORMULA:  HATE SPEECH +  MEDIA COVERAGE = BEST-SELLER
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/12/business/media/12carr.html
  David Carr examines Ann Coulter's simple PR formula for marketing
  her best-selling books: vile hate speech echoed in the mainstream
  media. In her five books Ann Coulter has "suggested wistfully that
  Timothy McVeigh should have parked his truck in front of the New
  York Times, joked that a Supreme Court justice should be poisoned,
  and said that America should invade Muslim countries and kill their
  leaders." Bob Wietrak of Barnes & Noble observes Ann Coulter's "fan
  base is phenomenal and she is in the media constantly. When she is
  in the media, it creates more media coverage. And every single day,
  the book sells more." TV loves Ann Coulter Carr concludes because
  "seeing hate-speech pop out of a blonde who knows her way around a
  black cocktail dress makes for compelling viewing. ... You can
  accuse her of cynicism all you want, but the fact that she is one of
  the leading political writers of our age says something about the
  rest of us."
SOURCE: New York Times, June 12, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4874

7. ANTIBIOTIC TRIAL CONTINUES DESPITE REPORTED THREAT TO CHILDREN
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/08/science/08drug.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
  A new antibiotic that has been found to cause four times the average
  rate of acute liver failure in adults continues in a trial for more
  than 900 children worldwide, despite criticism from a U.S. Food and
  Drug Administration official and a study consultant. The drug, Ketek
  (internationally known as Telithromycin) is manufactured by
  Sanofi-Aventis, a French pharmaceutical firm with U.S. headquarters
  in New Jersey. The company has defended the antibiotic as safe when
  used as directed. "How does one justify balancing the risk of fatal
  liver failure against one day less of ear pain?" asks Dr. Rosemary
  Johann-Liang, of the FDA's Office of Drug Safety, in a memo
  uncovered by the Times. Duke University infectious disease
  specialist Dr. Danny Benjamin echoes the concern, calling the
  pediatric trial "hard to support." Benjamin is especially critical
  of testing the antibiotic for routine ear infections at a time when
  antibiotics are less frequently recommended for pediatric treatment.
  Yet, the FDA's own website continues to promote the pediatric trial.
SOURCE: The New York Times, June 8, 2006 (reg req'd)
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4873

8. BURSON-MARSTELLER LANDS TUNA ACCOUNT
http://www.odwyerpr.com/members/0608tuna.htm
  The PR firm Ruder Finn has lost the account working for the U.S.
  Tuna Foundation to defend human consumption of canned tuna
  containing high levels of mercury. Burson-Marsteller has landed the
  account. "Amid the transition, Burson is working to challenge a
  widely cited Consumer Reports study published this month which found
  canned light tuna can contain higher levels of mercury than other
  tuna and could pose serious problems to an unborn child," O'Dwyer's
  reports. The foundation has also appointed Anne Forristall Luke, a
  former "principal at Washington, D.C. firm MGN and former public
  affairs practice head for Ketchum," to head the organization.
SOURCE: O'Dwyers PR Daily (sub req'd), June 8, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4872

9. RED-FACED BROADCAST EXECS RESIST REFORM
http://www.odwyerpr.com/members/index_media_notes.htm
  The President of the Radio-Television News Directors Association
  (RTNDA), Barbara Cochran, has conceded the accuracy of the recent
  Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) report, Fake TV News:
  Widespread and Undisclosed. "We had good reason to think that many
  of the video examples posted on the CMD website were simple errors,
  not deliberate attempts to fool the public, but the similarities
  between newscast stories and video news releases (VNRs) were
  embarrassing," Cochran said in a statement. While RTNDA may be
  red-faced, they are still resisting reforms that would mandate
  disclosure of VNRs to viewers. Meanwhile, the owner of KEF Media
  Associates, Kevin E. Foley, has abandoned even referring to VNRs,
  preferring to call them "TV press releases" instead. The Federal
  Communications Commission investigation into undisclosed use of
  VNRs, he complains, represents a threat to "the free speech rights
  of my corporate clients."
SOURCE: O'Dwyers PR Daily (sub req'd), June 8, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
http://www.prwatch.org/node/4871

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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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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
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