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PR Watch: The Weekly Spin (May 10, 2006)

THE WEEKLY SPIN, May 10, 2006

Sponsored by the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy: http://www.prwatch.org

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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. New CIA nominee Michael Hayden: SourceWatch has been on the case since 2003

== SPIN OF THE DAY ==

1. Facing the Media Crisis - October 6-8, Burlington, VT ">
2. USDA Officials Asked to Spread Iraq Manure
3. Former Oilman Aims To Overturn WWF's Anti-Nuclear Policy
4. Covert Recruiting Video in Schools, on Planes and TV
5. They Really CARE -- About Energy Profits
6. Green - or Greenwash - TV?
7. Pity the Poor, Misunderstood Oil Industry
8. New Homes for Corporate Video, Robin Raskin
9. The Telecom World's Payola Pundit
10. Lobbyists-Loot Dot Con: Berman Flees, Martosko Plays Dumb

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== BLOG POSTINGS ==

1. NEW CIA NOMINEE MICHAEL HAYDEN: SOURCEWATCH HAS BEEN ON THE CASE SINCE 2003 by Conor Kenny

 The man nominated today to head the CIA by President George W. Bush,  General Michael V. Hayden, has been tracked by SourceWatch (the  "mother-wiki" of Congresspedia) users on his own profile page since  2003. It's still basic, but now that he's famous for more than not  knowing what the 4th amendment says while serving as the Principal  Deputy Director of National Intelligence (see his  profile), we hope  it will be expanded by our community of contributors.  As he moves through his confirmation process I also expect to  see postings to the pages on the Senate Select Committee on  Intelligence and its members as that committee's confirmation  hearings for Hayden approach. For the rest of this story, visit: http://www.prwatch.org/node/4788

== SPIN OF THE DAY ==

1. FACING THE MEDIA CRISIS - OCTOBER 6-8, BURLINGTON, VT
http://www.acmecoalition.org/page.cfm?ID=134

Action Coalition on Media Education (ACME) convenes its national  conference this October 6 -8 in Burlington, Vermont, and  registration has begun on ACME's website. Dozens of presenters will  include Amy Goodman, Bill McKibben, Jean Kilbourne, Robert Jensen,  Jerome Armstrong, Carrie McLaren, Jeff Chester, Sut Jhally, Bob  McCannon, Diane Wilson, Josh Silver, Peter Phillips, Anthony Riddle,  Lauren-Glenn Davitian, Hannah Sassaman, Pete Tridesh, and Sara  Voorhees. CMD's John Stauber will deliver one of the keynotes titled  "What's Reality? Fake News, Real News and Weapons Of Mass  Perception." Stauber will examine the Lincoln Group's planting of  fake news in Iraq and other issues in The Best War Ever, the new  Rampton/Stauber book to be published on September 14.
SOURCE: ACME, May 10, 2006 For more information or to comment on this story, visit: http://www.prwatch.org/node/4791

2. USDA OFFICIALS ASKED TO SPREAD IRAQ MANURE
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/07/AR2006050700898.html
 

On May 2, a U.S. Department of Agriculture speechwriter emailed 60  USDA staff that "the President has requested that all members of his  cabinet and sub-cabinet incorporate message points on the Global War  on Terror into speeches, including specific examples of what each  agency is doing to aid the reconstruction of Iraq," reports Al  Kamen. An email attachment listed "examples of GWOT messages within  agriculture speeches," such as, "Several topics I'd like to talk  about today -- Farm Bill, trade with Japan, WTO, avian flu ... but  before I do, let me touch on a subject people always ask about ...  progress in Iraq." The email said such language is "being used by  [USDA] Secretary Johanns and deputy secretary Conner in all of their  remarks," and urged recipients to "use these message points as often  as possible" and report back when they do, for "a weekly account  sent to the White House." SOURCE: Washington Post, May 8, 2006 For more information or to comment on this story, visit: http://www.prwatch.org/node/4790

3. FORMER OILMAN AIMS TO OVERTURN WWF'S ANTI-NUCLEAR POLICY
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,19070034-2702,00.html

Greg Bourne, the former president of BP Australia and current head  of WWF Australia (formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund), last  week argued that Australian environmentalists should learn to live  with uranium mining. "The key issues are if we're going to be a  nation exporting uranium, we have to know absolutely it's only being  used for peaceful purposes and waste products are being stored  safely," he said. This week, Bourne is in London at WWF  International's global energy taskforce, where he wants to overturn  the group's stance that "WWF does not believe that nuclear power is  the solution to global warming. In fact, WWF has a vision for the  future which phases out the use of fossil fuel and nuclear in the  share of energy use across the globe." The Australian reports that  in March, Bourne apparently "ordered the organisation's global  anti-nuclear policy be removed from WWF Australia's website." SOURCE: The Australian, May 9, 2006 For more information or to comment on this story, visit: http://www.prwatch.org/node/4789

4. COVERT RECRUITING VIDEO IN SCHOOLS, ON PLANES AND TV
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0605060077may06,1,212661.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed
 

United Airlines' new in-flight video "was produced and funded by the  Department of Defense -- a fact passengers do not learn from  watching it," reports Jason George. The 13-minute segment, "Today's  Military," profiles five "military glamor jobs." It shows only "one  soldier beyond U.S. borders," who's "doing humanitarian work in  Thailand" -- a remarkable focus at a time of war. The Defense  Department paid United $36,000 to run the video for one month. A  United spokesperson said "between 7 to 15 minutes" of their two-hour  programming is sponsored video. The military video was excerpted  from a 48-minute feature, produced by the Mullen firm, that's aired  on at least two Illinois TV stations: Springfield's ABC and Peoria's  UPN affiliates. The feature "does not say who produced it until the  final credits roll" and the Defense Human Resources Activity is  listed. The goal is to educate "influencers," including parents and  teachers. "This fall, 40,000 copies" of the feature "will be shipped  to high school guidance counselors for distribution to students." SOURCE: Chicago Tribune, May 6, 2006 For more information or to comment on this story, visit: http://www.prwatch.org/node/4786

5. THEY REALLY CARE -- ABOUT ENERGY PROFITS
http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/43319.html 

Wendy Brown reports, "Critics say the Citizens' Alliance for  Responsible Energy ... is a classic front group for the oil-and-gas  industry. CARE claims its purpose is to educate people about energy  policy and undo some of the spin that left-wing groups have  propagated about alternative fuels like ethanol and hydrogen. But  John Stauber ... disagrees. 'If the big, polluting, price-gouging  energy corporations funding this group of 'citizens' were out in  front pushing their agenda, the press and public would be  appropriately skeptical. Instead, industry uses the tried-and-true  method of hiding behind a front group with a consumer-friendly  name.' ... CARE's Web site contains position papers arguing that  global warming is not a man-made problem, that nuclear power is an  environmentally responsible power source and that the public should  proceed with caution in developing renewable energies like solar and  hydrogen." CARE is staffed by Mark E. Mathis, a former TV anchor,  current radio talk show host and consultant with the Independent  Petroleum Association of New Mexico. SOURCE: The New Mexican, May 7, 2006 For more information or to comment on this story, visit: http://www.prwatch.org/node/4783

6. GREEN - OR GREENWASH - TV?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4938502.stm 

"A new broadband TV channel dedicated to showing films about the  environment is offering companies a chance to broadcast their  green-tinged messages -- for nothing," reports BBC News. "Already,  films by energy giant Npower and ice cream maker Ben & Jerry have  been shown by the channel," called Green.tv. Founder Ade Thomas  said, "Anyone who makes films about environmental issues can  broadcast them for free via Green.tv. ... We're an aggregator of  editorial content." Thomas explained that initial plans called for  an editorial board to oversee content, but now the channel will  "clearly mark who has made each film," and allow viewers "to prick  holes in any film peddling lies or misleading praise of companies"  on its blog. Green.tv partners include Greenpeace and Friends of the  Earth. Internationally, it receives support from the United Nations  Environment Program, Water Aid and The World Conservation Union. SOURCE: BBC News, May 2, 2006 For more information or to comment on this story, visit: http://www.prwatch.org/node/4782

7. PITY THE POOR, MISUNDERSTOOD OIL INDUSTRY http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/03/business/media/03oil.html 

As gas prices rise and oil companies enjoy record profits, the  industry is increasing its PR efforts. The American Petroleum  Institute (API) hired The Hawthorn Group and Edelman's advertising  practice, spending "more than $20 million over the last few months."  Talking points developed by API and others include: "forces of  demand have outstripped supply," especially with China's economic  growth; "oil industry profits are not outsize by the standards of  other major industries"; and "Western oil companies have only a  limited share of the crude oil market." The industry has retained  "familiar Washington figures like the former Reagan official,  Michael K. Deaver, and former Senator J. Bennett Johnston of  Louisiana," to gain Congressional support. PR Week reports that  ExxonMobil is "discussing its Energy Outlook presentation ... with  policymakers, citizen groups, and the media." Shell Oil is promoting  its "Fuel Stretch Principles," which "help people improve their fuel  economy," and its credit card, "which offers a 5% rebate on gas  purchases." SOURCE: New York Times, May 3, 2006 For more information or to comment on this story, visit: http://www.prwatch.org/node/4780

8. NEW HOMES FOR CORPORATE VIDEO, ROBIN RASKIN http://www.prweek.com/us/features/article/556005/Broadcast+tools+find+second+home/ 

"Putting VNRs, b-roll, and SMTs on the Web is quickly becoming a  corporate necessity," claims PR Week, referring to sponsored "news"  packages, interviews and other video. A MultiVu executive "notes  that pharma companies in particular are using broadcast content on  the Web to reach out to a different audience. ... MultiVu recently  produced a VNR package about osteoporosis for spinal-product company  Kyphon and later incorporated the footage into a multimedia news  release ... to target physicians." PR Week also suggests  distributing corporate video via podcasts, RSS feeds and iTunes. In  related news, "VNR Queen" Robin Raskin is featured on the new Yahoo!  Tech website. In their release announcing the site, Yahoo! calls  Raskin "The Boomer," and says she will provide "regular coverage  focused on a maturing audience." Red Herring writes that Yahoo! Tech  is "designed to help consumers and provide a preferred advertising  platform for product marketers." SOURCE: PR Week (sub req'd), May 1, 2006 For more information or to comment on this story, visit: http://www.prwatch.org/node/4779

9. THE TELECOM WORLD'S PAYOLA PUNDIT http://www.nypost.com/business/67923.htm 

The New York Times, Washington Post and other "major U.S. newspapers  often quote Jeff Kagan -- regarded as one of the most influential  telecommunications analysts -- but invariably leave out the fact  that he is paid by many companies in the industry to offer his  comments to the media," reports Tim Arango. Kagan's web site  describes him as a "'fee-based' analyst" who "gives interviews,  analysis and insights to the media for free, and charges everyone  else." Sprint, Verizon and BellSouth are among the companies that  have hired Kagan. "Kagan admits he is rarely asked by reporters if  he is being paid by the companies he is speaking about," writes  Arango. "He said he is more frequently asked if he has an investment  relationship with a particular company, and does not hold stock in  the companies he counts as clients." SOURCE: New York Post, May 3, 2006 For more information or to comment on this story, visit: http://www.prwatch.org/node/4778

10. LOBBYISTS-LOOT DOT CON:  BERMAN FLEES, MARTOSKO PLAYS DUMB http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=politics&id=4140447 

Mark Matthews, reporter for KGO, the ABC TV affiliate in San  Francisco, traveled to Washington, DC, to investigate Rick Berman,  the booze, food and tobacco lobbyist behind ActivistCash.com and  many other front groups. Reports Matthews, "Berman set up the Center  for Consumer Freedom and a number of other tax exempt educational  organizations. And those educational non-profits all seem to support  messages that dove tail nicely with the food beverage and tobacco  industries that have hired Richard Berman. ... When we tried to ask  Rick Berman himself about that, he ducked out of our interview. ...  Berman wouldn't talk with us about how his non-profits are connected  financially to his lobbying business, and his research director  (David Martosko) didn't tell us. 'I don't know the firms that send  the Center for Consumer Freedom money. I don't want to know. It's  not my business to know.' ... The most recent available tax records  for the Center for Consumer Freedom show in 2004 Berman and Co. took  in a million-and-a-half dollars from the Center for Consumer  Freedom. ... Representative Pete Stark of Fremont, calls Berman's  operation an abuse." SOURCE: KGO TV, San Francisco, May 3, 2006 For more information or to comment on this story, visit: http://www.prwatch.org/node/4777

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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 organization. To subscribe or unsubcribe, visit: http://www.prwatch.org/cmd/subscribe_sotd.html

Daily updates and news from past weeks can be found in the "Spin of the Day" section of CMD's website: http://www.prwatch.org/spin

Archives of our quarterly publication, PR Watch, are at: http://www.prwatch.org/prwissues

CMD also sponsors SourceWatch, a collaborative research project that invites anyone (including you) to contribute and edit articles. For more information, visit: http://www.sourcewatch.org

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: editor@prwatch.org

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