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PR Watch: The Weekly Spin (Aug. 9, 2006)

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1. Half of Americans Still Believe In WMDs - They Saw Them on TV
2. Congresspedia/SourceWatch gets wiki-mania

1. "Fiasco" Author Says  Israel Allows Missile Attacks for PR Purposes
2. Making Radioactive Weather
3. Patient Lobbying
4. Who's Afraid of Eric Schlosser?
5. Did Consultants Cook the UK Nuclear Review Books?
6. No Green on the TV Screen - Networks Short the Environment
7. Climate Change Website Taken Off, Eh?
8. DuPont's Charity Begins at Home
9. Republican Criticizes Bush Over Secret WMD  Propaganda
10. Doctors Addicted To Freebies
11. Viral Video Questioning Global Warming Linked to DCI
12. Former PR Executive's Wrongful Dismissal Suit Rejected
13. Forming "Deep, Emotional Bonds" To Shampoo, Copiers
14. Free-Market Fox Nominated to Henhouse Post



by John Stauber

  A recent Harris Poll reports found that while "the U.S. and other
  countries have not found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,
  surprisingly more U.S. adults (50%) think that Iraq had such weapons
  when the U.S. invaded Iraq. This is an increase from 36 percent in
  February 2005."
       This is terrible news. Even President Bush has been forced to
  admit that his administration's number one justification for
  attacking Iraq was wrong, because in fact there were no weapons of
  mass destruction. The Harris Poll didn't attempt to analyze why
  the number of misled Americans has actually increased in the past
  year, but perhaps it is because Senator Rick Santorum held a news
  conference not long ago in Washington and announced that WMDs had
  just been found in Iraq. A bit like announcing that, science be
  damned, the Sun is revolving around the Earth! Pentagon officials
  quickly dismissed the Senator's claims, which were based on the
  discovery of some leftover, nonfunctioning weapons from more than a
  a decade ago. Sheldon Rampton and I examine this phenomenon in our
  next book, The Best War Ever, excerpted below.
For the rest of this story, visit:

by Conor Kenny

  I'm currently at the Citizen Journalism "unconference" at the
  Wikimania 2006 conference in Boston with a joint team from the
  Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Media and Democracy.
  Wikimania is the gathering of the international horde of volunteers,
  citizen researchers and programmers behind Wikipedia and the many
  wikis it has inspired, including SourceWatch/Congresspedia. The
  "unconference" is being put on by our friend Dan Gillmor and his new
  Center for Citizen Media.
For the rest of this story, visit:


  On his CNN TV program, Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post
  interviewed Thomas Ricks, the Post's Pentagon reporter and author of
  the book Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. Ricks told
  Kurtz, "One of the things that is going on, according to some U.S.
  military analysts, is that Israel purposely has left pockets of
  Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they're being
  rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in
  their operations in Lebanon." Kurtz responded, "Hold on, you're
  suggesting that Israel has deliberately allowed Hezbollah to retain
  some of its fire power, essentially for PR purposes, because having
  Israeli civilians killed helps them in the public relations war
  here?" Ricks replied, "Yes, that's what military analysts have told
  me." Kurtz remarked "that's an extraordinary testament to the notion
  that having people on your own side killed actually works to your
  benefit in that nobody wants to see your own citizens killed but it
  works to your benefit in terms of the battle of perceptions here."
  Ricks replied "It helps you with the moral high ground problem,
  because you know your operations in Lebanon are going to be killing
  civilians as well."
SOURCE: CNN Reliable Sources, August 6, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  In a feature in the weekend magazine accompanying the Sydney Morning
  Herald and The Age, scientist Tim Flannery extolled nuclear power as
  the solution to global warming. Flannery's book, The Weather Makers,
  was underwritten by businessman Robert Purves, the president of WWF
  Australia. Clive Hamilton, the Executive Director of the Australia
  Institute, a centre-left think tank, is critical of Flannery's
  reliance on individual responsibility and nuclear power as solutions
  to climate change. Flannery's reliance on individual responsibility
  "is music to the Government's ears," Hamilton writes. "Alone among
  Australian environmental advocates, he has declared his support for
  the development of a nuclear industry. The Prime Minister, John
  Howard, now regularly buttresses his nuclear push by saying that
  even some environmentalists 'like Tim Flannery' support nuclear
  power," Hamilton writes. WWF Australia's CEO and former BP
  executive, Greg Bourne, has also backed an expansion of uranium
  mining and nuclear power.
SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald, August 8, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  Drug company funding for the Mental Health Council of Australia to
  run lobbying and disease awareness campaigns, The Age reports,
  raises "questions about whether the agendas of a consumer group and
  that of a multinational drug company are the same." Some of the
  companies that have funded the council include Pfizer,
  Janssen-Cilag, Eli Lilly and Bristol-Myers Squibb. "Disease
  awareness campaigns are very important in countries like Australia
  where direct-to-consumer advertising is prohibited," said Melissa
  Raven, adjunct lecturer in public health at Flinders University in
  Adelaide. A spokesman for the peak drug industry lobby group,
  Medicines Australia, defended  patient groups working with drug
  companies. "Patient groups and pharmaceutical companies have common
  goals, including treating and managing disease," the spokesman
  claimed. Others disagree. "The strategy is all about growing markets
  and increasing sales," says Dr Jon Jureidini, the chairman of the
  global watchdog on drug industry marketing, Healthy Skepticism.
SOURCE: The Age (Australia), August 8, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  "Who made the edit?" asks Evan Hessel in his Forbes "OutFront"
  column. "The edit" in Wikipedia's entry on  McDonald's Corporation
  erased a link to Eric Schlosser's highly critical assessment of
  McDonald's in Fast Food Nation, and replaced it with a link to a
  more academic tome. Schlosser, who is now coming out with a book and
  movie critical of the fast food industry aimed at younger audiences,
  has also driven the industry to create its own ongoing self-defense
  website, bestfoodnation. Hessel, like the Wall Street Journal
  reporter who recently discovered that the DCI Group concealed itself
  in a YouTube video to mock Al Gore, traced the Wikipedia "citizen
  journalist" Internet Protocol address to none other
  than...McDonald's. Hessel points out that, these days, "neither
  promotional fluff nor libel lasts long" on Wikipedia. The Schlosser
  link was quickly restored. McDonald's told Hessel that it has no
  policy regarding employee changes to Wikipedia. There is one PR
  strategist out there who seems to get it: Hessel quotes Edelman
  P.R.'s Steven Rubel as writing in his blog that "Marketing and
  Wikipedia are antonyms." Marketers should limit themselves to
  editing inaccuracies and should identify their PR affiliation, Rubel
SOURCE: Forbes, June 19, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  "I wondered why [nuclear power] was being pushed and pushed and
  pushed," said British parliamentarian Dai Davies, in response to
  news that "key consultants" working on the UK National Energy Review
  "have strong links to the nuclear industry." The Observer reports
  that AEA Technology handled public submissions for the review. AEA
  was formed by the Atomic Energy Authority, and while the firm "has
  sold most of its nuclear businesses," it still "has a nuclear waste
  unit, and senior executives and staff have links to the old
  authority and other parts of the nuclear industry." Some energy
  experts who made submissions "said they felt their evidence was
  underplayed and misrepresented." AEA did publish a summary table,
  "which showed that nuclear power was the only one [of 15 low-carbon
  technologies] to get more opposition than support." Prime Minister
  Blair nonetheless supports nuclear power, though "during the recent
  heatwave nuclear reactors in mainland Europe" and the U.S. "have had
  to be shut down," due to high water temperatures.
SOURCE: The Observer (UK), August 6, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  "Environmental coverage -- not counting natural disasters and
  weather -- dropped nearly to record low levels in 2005 on the three
  national broadcast networks' weekday nightly newscasts," according
  to a new study by Andrew Tyndall. Throughout 2005, the newscasts of
  ABC, CBS and NBC combined spent just 168 minutes on environmental
  news. Since 1988, the three networks have spent an average of two
  percent of their newscasts on environmental news and four percent on
  natural disasters. Another study, by the Pew Research Center, found
  that nearly half of U.S. residents spent at least 30 minutes a day
  watching TV newscasts. Fifty-four percent of respondents said they
  regularly watched local TV news, while 34 percent turn to cable TV
  news. News websites tend to be used "as a supplemental source," and
  the audience "is skewing older," with "fortysomethings" more likely
  than youths to read news websites, reported Reuters.
SOURCE: Environment Writer newsletter (US), August 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  The conservative administration "is trying to push global climate
  change off the federal map, shutting down the main federal website
  on the topic and removing mention of it from speeches and postings"
  -- in Canada. Two liberal officials have protested the demise of the
  website, along with other examples of Tories' "expunging previous
  government news releases and other climate change information from
  federal websites." The defunct website directs people to two other
  sites, but neither provides the "detailed information on
  climate-change theories, measures to combat it, and how it might
  affect the economy, environment and health of Canadians," that the
  old climate change site did. Canadian environmentalist John Godfrey
  said the Tories appear to be removing "as many references as
  possible on government websites to the Kyoto climate change
SOURCE: Toronto Star, August 5, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  In June 2005, the state of Rhode Island agreed to drop DuPont from
  its lawsuit against former makers of lead paint. As part of the
  deal, which likely saved the chemical company billions, DuPont
  agreed to donate $9 million to the Children's Health Forum, for
  efforts geared to avoid childhood exposure to lead. Now the
  Associated Press reports that the Children's Health Forum was
  founded by a consultant hired by DuPont, "to help the company
  address childhood lead poisoning." It was initially incorporated as
  a lobbying group, but later became a nonprofit charity. Most of the
  money raised by the group has come from DuPont. Several board
  members have ties to DuPont; executive director Olivia Morgan works
  for the PR firm Dewey Square Group, which counts DuPont among its
  clients. Yet, the Children's Health Forum group claims to act
  independently of DuPont. Clean government activists are saying
  DuPont's settlement should have gone to the state.
SOURCE: Associated Press, August 3, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  The New York Times reports that "The Republican chairman of the
  Senate Intelligence Committee lashed out at the White House on
  Thursday, criticizing attempts by the Bush administration to keep
  secret parts of a report on the role Iraqi exiles played in building
  the case for war against Iraq. The chairman, Senator Pat Roberts of
  Kansas ... chastised the White House for efforts to classify most of
  the part that examines intelligence provided to the Bush
  administration by the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group. ...
  One completed section of the Senate report is said to be a harsh
  critique of how information from the Iraqi exile group made its way
  into intelligence community reports." Funded with hundreds of
  millions of U.S. tax dollars, and created and assisted by the Rendon
  Group, Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress was the source for
  the most compelling and higly publicized lies and deceptions about
  Iraq's non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction program.
SOURCE: New York Times, August 4, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  A study published in the Internal Medicine Journal  reveals that
  many Australian medical specialists seek gifts from drug companies.
  The study of 823 specialists, Melissa Fyfe writes in the Sydney
  Morning Herald, "found that personal gifts offered to doctors were
  valued up to $40,000 and included wine, flowers, a 'spa' dinner,
  harbour cruises, tickets to the movies, the circus, concerts, opera
  and sporting events." Six specialists sought funding for the
  salaries of nurses, one for A$80,000 (US$60,000). The authors of the
  article argue that there is a need for "more conservative standards
  on gifts and support for travel." A spokesman for the peak drug
  industry lobby group, Medicines Australia, said the group welcomed
  scrutiny of the "relationship between companies and health care
  professionals." However, last week the industry objected to a new
  provision requiring disclosure of subsidies provided to doctors at
  'educational' meetings.
SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald, August 4, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  The video "Al Gore's Penguin Army," which belittles the threat of
  global warming (suggesting viewers "stop exhaling") and makes fun of
  the former vice-president, has a "home-made, humorous quality." Yet
  the filmmaker's email links him to "DCI Group, a Washington, D.C.,
  public relations and lobbying firm whose clients include oil company
  Exxon Mobil," reports the Wall Street Journal. Ads promoting the
  penguin video appeared to people searching for "Al Gore" or "Global
  Warming" on the Google search engine, but these ads "were removed
  shortly after The Wall Street Journal contacted DCI." DCI's Tech
  Central Station website has also "sought to raise doubts about the
  science of global warming and about Mr. Gore's film." The firm
  "declines to say whether or not DCI made the anti-Gore penguin
  video," but an Exxon spokesperson said they "did not fund" and "did
  not approve it." What is certain is that "political operatives,
  public relations experts and ad agencies" are increasingly using
  video-sharing websites like YouTube to shape public opinion. Ogilvy
  & Mather "plans to post amateur-looking videos on Web sites to spare
  word-of-mouth buzz about Foster's beer," and AT&T has used YouTube
  to post videos against net neutrality.
SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (sub req'd), August 3, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  U.S. District Judge Margaret Morrow has thrown out a wrongful
  dismissal suit brought by Douglas R. Dowie against his former
  employer, the public relations company Fleishman-Hillard. In court
  documents, Morrow wrote that "no reasonable jury could conclude that
  Fleishman-Hillard lacked good cause to terminate" Dowie, who was
  general manager of the company's Los Angeles office. In late March
  2005 Dowie filed a lawsuit claiming that he had been made a
  scapegoat in the controversy over the overbilling of the Los Angeles
  Power and Water Department. In April 2005, Fleishman-Hillard agreed
  to pay $5.7 million to settle a lawsuit brought against it by the
  city of Los Angeles. Dowie, who was paid an annual salary of
  $370,000, was seeking lost wages and other damages.
SOURCE: San Jose Mercury News, August 2, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  Two corporate giants, Xerox and Procter & Gamble, are launching new
  corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaigns. The Xerox campaign,
  "Let's Say Thanks," encourages customers to send postcards to U.S.
  soldiers stationed overseas. The postcards feature artwork by
  children; Xerox "is hoping to garner media coverage through the
  local drawing contests for kids." The P&G campaign, "Pantene
  Beautiful Lengths," encourages people "to grow, cut, and donate
  their hair to make wigs for women who have lost hair due to cancer
  treatment." P&G's Anthony Rose told PR Week, "We created the program
  to form a deep, emotional bond between our consumers and Pantene.
  Increasingly, we are learning that mere awareness of the brand, its
  functionality, and performance are not enough." Rose credited P&G's
  PR firm, DeVries Public Relations, with the idea for the campaign.
SOURCE: PR Week (sub req'd), August 2, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  Susan E. Dudley, the "Regulatory Studies Director" at the
  anti-regulatory think tank the Mercatus Center and a self-proclaimed
  "free-market environmentalist," has been nominated by the White
  House to "a little known but powerful post at the Office of
  Management and Budget." If confirmed by the Senate, Dudley will head
  the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which
  "reviews major agency regulations with an eye toward reducing
  compliance costs, and according to critics, easing burdens on
  companies." Dudley and Mercatus have been "very active" on OIRA
  issues, notes the Wall Street Journal. "Ultimately, 14 of the 23
  rules the White House chose for its 2001 'hit list' were Mercatus
SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (sub req'd), August 1, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:


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