1. Winter Soldier:  Eyewitness Accounts of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
2. Stealth Marketers Gone Wild: Will the FCC Act?

1. Rick Berman Gets Fat off the Obesity Industry
2. Just the Picture, No Words
3. Nuclear Waste on the Move
4. Whatever Industry Wants
5. Is This a Job for the Ethically Challenged?
6. Climate Changers Go Lobbying
7. PickensPlan Pushed by Patton Boggs
8. Reach Out and Smear Someone
9. Weekly Radio Spin: Bailing Out with Golden Parachutes
10. German Medical Society Proposes Classifying Nicotine Addiction as an Illness
11. Pay No Attention to the Industry-Funded Group Behind the Website
12. Bolivia: The Spies Who Spun Me
13. The Sound of Silence
14. The Politics of Lying
15. Return of the Swift Boaters


by John Stauber
       Two years ago, public revulsion against the Bush
  Administration’s unnecessary and disastrous attack and occupation of
  Iraq resulted in the Democratic Party taking control of the U.S.
  Congress.  But Nancy Pelosi and the new political leadership backed
  down before President Bush and refused to withhold funding for the
  war, while rhetorically denouncing it and thus playing to anti-war
  voters.   The liberal lobby group MoveOn spent tens of millions of
  dollars on anti-war advertisements and door-to-door canvassing
  events as part of its partisan campaign to blame the war on the
  Republicans, while letting Democrats off the hook for giving Bush
  all the money he wanted to continue the occupation into next year.
       Today, as the 2008 election approaches, worry over Iraq has
  slipped down the public’s list of concerns while more immediate
  economic issues and the spectacular collapse of the Wall Street
  investment banks take center stage.  However, one anti-war
  organization has proven especially tenacious, independent and
  committed to immediately bringing home troops from Iraq and making
  good to the Iraqi people, while taking care of the soldiers who
  fought the war.  That organization is the Iraq Veterans Against the
  War (IVAW) composed of about a thousand soldiers who have recently
  served or are still serving in the U.S. military.
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by Diane Farsetta
       One of my favorite critiques of our ad-saturated modern world
  is in “Infinite Jest,” the epic novel by recently-departed author
  and essayist David Foster Wallace.  In the novel’s not-too-distant
  future, time itself has become a corporate marketing opportunity.
  There’s the Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar and the Year of the
  Depend Adult Undergarment.  That’s not to mention the Year of the
  Yushityu 2007
  For Infernatron/InterLace TP Systems For Home, Office, Or Mobile,
  which is often abbreviated.
       The novel’s system of Subsidized Time is hilarious … and
  you can almost imagine it really happening.  At least
  corporate-sponsored years wouldn’t present the disclosure problems
  of today’s stealth ads — marketing messages that masquerade as
  entertainment or news content.
       The Center for Media and Democracy believes that all
  advertising should be as clearly announced as the Year of the
  Trial-Size Dove Bar.  That’s why we just filed a comment with the
  Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  The FCC is debating how
  its sponsorship identification rules apply to product placement,
  product integration and other types of “embedded advertising”
  relayed over television or radio stations.
       In 2003, Commercial Alert urged the FCC to address product
  placement disclosure.  “Advertisers can puff and tout, and use all
  the many tricks of their trade,” the watchdog group wrote (pdf).
  “But they must not pretend that their ads are something else.”
       Especially, we would add, when that “something else” is news
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  Kevin Anderson, blog editor for the UK Guardian, was bemused by an
  advertisement posted in the Washington DC subway.  “This ad of a
  man’s beer belly stuffed with bills railing away against trial
  lawyers probably makes little sense to the average American. …
  Figuring out who is behind ads like this is even more interesting.
  The ad highlights an innocuous sounding website
  www.ConsumerFreedom.com (because who would be against consumer
  freedom?). What is this group?  SourceWatch gives the history and
  current campaigns of the Center for Consumer Freedom. They
  originally started to fight against smoking restrictions in
  restaurants backed with money from tobacco giant Philip Morris. They
  have since expanded into other areas including anti-anti-obesity.
  Hard-hitting news funny man Stephen Colbert gets to the bottom of
  the story in this interview of Rick Berman, the PR man behind the
  Center for Consumer Freedom.”
SOURCE: The Guardian (UK), September 23, 2008

  Efforts by the McCain/Palin campaign to keep reporters away from
  Sarah Palin have prompted journalists to threaten a boycott of
  Palin’s photo shoots at the United Nations. “The campaign had
  originally indicated that the print reporters following her campaign
  would be among the small group of journalists allowed to attend the
  so-called ‘pool sprays’ before Palin’s meetings with dignitaries on
  the sidelines of the U.N. meetings,” explains Kenneth P. Vogel. “The
  sprays are basically glorified photo opportunities during which
  journalists can snap photos and film footage and — if they’re lucky
  — shout a question or two at Palin and her company before she
  adjourns for private meetings. … But the imbroglio began
  developing Tuesday morning when Palin’s handlers informed the small
  print press contingent covering her campaign that the print reporter
  designated to cover the events, Elizabeth Holmes of the Wall Street
  Journal, would not be allowed to cover the sprays.” As CBS News’
  Scott Conroy notes, this latest dustup reflects “unprecedented”
  efforts by the campaign to shut out the media. “She has been a
  candidate for the second highest office in the land for nearly a
  month, but Sarah Palin has yet to hold a single press conference,”
  Conroy writes. Even conservative Fox News has noticed how tightly
  the McCain campaign is trying to control access to Palin. “One
  reporter got close enough to Palin to ask her an impromptu question
  about the AIG bail-out, but that is the only spontaneous question
  she has gotten thrown at her since being rolled out as McCain’s
  number two,” observed Fox news producer Shushannah Walshe.
SOURCE: Politico.com, September 23, 2008

  International Nuclear Services (INS) is looking for PR support for
  an unpopular issue — transportation of nuclear waste. “INS was
  created out of the ‘spent fuel services’ business of Sellafield to
  provide a service to more than 20 global utility firms. It manages
  the transportation of their nuclear waste and subsequent
  reprocessing at Sellafield.”  British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL) was
  an international company owned by the UK government, involved in all
  stages of the nuclear process, from designing reactors and
  manufacturing fuel, to decommissioning reactors and dealing with
  radioactive waste. Sellafield emerged from the re-organization of
  BNFL as the company responsible for the delivery of contracts at the
  Sellafield and Capenhurst sites in England on behalf of site owners,
  the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The contract will be worth
  around £550,000 ($1,017,500) over four years. Sellafield press
  officer Steve Barnes said: “This role can only be delivered by a
  specialised firm that has in-depth knowledge of international
  relations and the issues of transportation of nuclear materials
SOURCE: PR Week (UK, sub req’d), September 18, 2008

  Public interest groups, including the Center for Science in the
  Public Interest, are blasting the Food and Drug Administration for
  relying on industry-funded studies in evaluating the safety of
  bisphenol A, a chemical widely used in food packaging materials. The
  FDA’s BPA draft assessment says the chemical is safe, ignoring
  numerous independent and government-funded studies which show risk
  of harm including brain and prostate damage to developing infants,
  fetuses, and children, as well as increased risk of diabetes and
  heart disease. Instead, the FDA relied on two studies funded by an
  arm of the American Chemistry Council, a trade organization
  representing chemical manufacturers. Employees of SABIC Innovative
  Plastics and Dow Chemical, which manufacture BPA, coauthored the two
  studies. The studies’ lead author, Rochelle Tyl of Research Triangle
  Institute in North Carolina, previously worked for the chemical
  industry and received research funding from the plastics industry.
SOURCE: Integrity in Science Watch, September 22, 2008

  The Louisiana Senate has appointed former veteran Hill & Knowlton
  (H&K) lobbyist and Democratic congressional aide Gary Hymel to the
  Louisiana Board of Ethics. The board’s role is to “interpret and
  enforce” ethical standards for the state’s government employees and
  electoral campaign finance and lobbyist disclosure laws. “I have
  seen the government from a lot of different angles,” Hymel said.
  What wasn’t reported in coverage of his appointment was that in
  1990, Hymel was a lobbyist for Turkey and Indonesia, as both
  countries sought to cover up notorious human rights abuses. In 1990,
  Hymel also worked on H&K’s account for Citizens for a Free Kuwait, a
  front group bankrolled by the Kuwaiti royal family. After the first
  Gulf War was over, H&K was identified as having promoted the false
  accusations that Iraqi soldiers had taken Kuwaiti babies out of
  incubators and left them to die. In 2002, O’Dwyer’s PR Daily
  reported (sub req’d) that Hymel was one of seven H&K consultants
  “trying to salvage Enron” after its collapse.
SOURCE: The Advocate (Louisiana), September 20, 2008

  The UK Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, a group hosted
  by the University of Cambridge’s Programme for Industry, has written
  to British political leaders requesting a meeting to discuss the
  development of a “comprehensive package of policy measures to change
  every major sector of the economy” to combat climate change. The
  group argues that there is a need for a successor agreement to the
  Kyoto Protocol, which may be negotiated at the COP14 meeting in
  Poland in December 2008, and the COP15 meeting in Copenhagen in
  December 2009. Among the signatories of the letter were the CEOs of
  the power company E.ON UK and airport owner BAA. Greenpeace
  communications director Ben Stewart responded, “This is hypocrisy of
  the purest strain. … If the executives of these companies want
  action on climate change they should immediately lock themselves in
  their boardrooms and not come out until the Kingsnorth [coal-fired
  power station] and Heathrow [airport] expansion have been dropped,”
  he told the Guardian.
SOURCE: The Guardian (UK), September 19, 2008

  In July, oil industry figure T. Boone Pickens launched the
  PickensPlan to promote “energy independence” from “foreign oil” for
  the United States. In the plan, Pickens promotes the use of wind
  power to generate 20 percent of U.S. electricity, and natural gas
  and biofuels for transportation. Pickens now has business interests
  from funds management, water projects and the use of natural gas as
  a transportation fuel. O’Dwyers PR Daily reports that Pickens has
  hired the Washington D.C. lobbying firm Patton Boggs “to win
  Washington support” for the plan. One of those managing the account
  for Patton Boggs is Benjamin Ginsberg, who was national counsel to
  the two Bush-Cheney campaigns and, his biographical note states,
  “played a central role in the 2000 Florida recount.” O’Dwyers
  reports that Pickens used Sloane & Co for the launch of his plan and
  has also been using North Bridge Communications for PR support.
SOURCE: O’Dwyers PR Daily (sub req’d), September 19, 2008

  The Republican Jewish Coalition says it hired the political
  polling firm Central Research to “understand why Barack Obama
  continues to have a problem among Jewish voters.” But the poll
  questions upset many of the hundreds of Jewish voters in Florida,
  Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey who received the calls.
  Some say it was a push poll, designed to spread negative information
  and disinformation. Others say the calls, with more than 80
  questions, were too long to be push polls; instead, they may be
  testing messages for future attack ads. One question the pollsters
  asked is whether it would affect the respondent’s vote if she or he
  knew that Hamas’ leader had “expressed support for Obama.” The
  Republican Jewish Coalition, which has endorsed John McCain for
  President, also helped launch the pro-war lobby group Freedom’s
  Watch. In the 2000 primary campaign, the Bush team targeted McCain
  with a push poll in South Carolina that claimed McCain had fathered
  an illegitimate black baby.
SOURCE: Politico.com, September 16, 2008

  Listen to THIS WEEK’S EDITION of the “Weekly Radio Spin,” the
  Center for Media and Democracy’s audio report on the stories behind
  the news. This week, we look at CEOs’ parachutes, next generation
  Swift Boaters, and meddling in Bolivia. In “Six Degrees of Spin and
  Fakin’,” we look at the pedigree of the American Issues Project. The
  Weekly Radio Spin is freely available for personal and broadcast
  use. Podcasters can subscribe to the XML feed on
  www.prwatch.org/audio or via iTunes. If you air the Weekly Radio
  Spin on your radio station, please email us at editor@prwatch.org to
  let us know. Thanks!
SOURCE: Center for Media and Democracy, September 19, 2008

  Germany’s Federal Medical Society is proposing to classify
  nicotine addiction as an illness, saying doctors should evaluate and
  treat heavily addicted smokers the same way they do patients
  suffering from physical illness.  They hope that labeling smokers as
  being sick will pressure more of them to seek professional help to
  overcome their addiction.  The label may be more than just a
  strategy, though.  In June 1998, the Director of the U.S. National
  Institute on Drug Abuse, Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., testified before a
  Congressional panel that addiction, including nicotine addiction, is
  now considered to be a chronic, recurring brain disease. German
  health insurance companies fear the Medical Society’s proposal will
  lead to a spike in smoking-related claims, and are unenthusiastic
  about paying for medical treatment for something they consider to be
  a “self-inflicted addiction.”  About 140,000 German citizens die
  annually from smoking-related illnesses.
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle (Germany), September 17, 2008

  To develop its new website that tries to help the public
  understand direct-to-consumer drug ads, the U.S. Food and Drug
  Administration (FDA) “turned to a nonprofit front group erected by
  Shaw Science Partners, a public relations firm that specializes in
  launching new drugs,” according to the Center for Science in the
  Public Interest (CSPI). EthicAd, the nonprofit behind the FDA site,
  is funded by Shaw Science and its own board members. Shaw Group
  founder Michael Shaw admitted that “if not all, almost all” of
  EthicAd’s funders “do work for industry.” EthicAd also “shares the
  same physical address as Shaw Science Partners.” CSPI gives a
  negative review of the FDA site, calling it “jargon-filled” and
  lacking advice on how to evaluate messages about drug side effects,
  among other consumer topics. CSPI is calling on the FDA “to scuttle
  the web site, to terminate its relationship with the drug companies’
  PR firm, and to seek out advice from leading physicians,
  pharmacists, or consumer groups.”
SOURCE: Center for Science in the Public Interest, September 15, 2008

  In Bolivia, anti-government protests have led to dozens of deaths.
  President Evo Morales claimed the United States is supporting the
  violent groups and asked U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg to leave.
  The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), pointing to
  earlier reports that the U.S. Embassy “had repeatedly asked Peace
  Corps volunteers and a Fulbright Scholar to spy on people inside
  Bolivia,” says Morales may have a point. So CEPR is calling on the
  U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) “and other U.S.
  agencies to ‘come clean'” about which groups they support, in
  Bolivia. “Despite numerous requests … the U.S. has not turned over
  all the names of recipient organizations of USAID funds.” In related
  news, USAID “is looking to hire a PR firm to tout its work in
  Bolivia as diplomatic relations have strained with the left-leaning
  South American country,” reports O’Dwyer’s. USAID will pay $500,000
  for the first year of an up to three year contract, “to highlight
  its emergency supply efforts, opportunities for the poor, and other
  economic and social welfare programs it has funded in Bolivia.”
SOURCE: Center for Economic and Policy Research, September 12, 2008

  “The Ear and Hearing Journal has rebuked a Washington University
  researcher for failing to disclose that he was working as a paid
  expert for a siren manufacturer when he published a study saying
  firefighters weren’t at risk for job-related hearing loss,” reports
  David Armstrong. The study’s author, William W. Clark of the
  Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, claimed that
  “no external funding was received for this study.” In fact, Federal
  Signal Corp., which manufactures emergency equipment, helped
  conceptualize the study and acquired the original data for Clark,
  according to documents uncovered in a lawsuit filed by Chicago
  firefighters. The Center for Science in the Public Interest pointed
  out in 2006 that “Federal Signal lawyers paid Clark $9,300 in
  consulting fees while the study was underway and a $25,000 retainer
  for future testimony shortly after its publication.”
SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (sub req’d), September 12, 2008

  “Politicians have never been known for telling the truth, the
  whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but generally when caught
  exaggerating the truth they usually stop. This year things seem to
  be different,” observes Andrew Tanenbaum of Electoral-Vote.com. “For
  example, Sarah Palin has said over and over that she never requested
  any earmarks as governor. That is patently false. She requested $450
  million in earmarks and got most of it. Although Congress wouldn’t
  finance the bridge to nowhere, Palin got to keep the money anyway
  and spend it on other projects. When called on this, a McCain
  spokesman, Brian Rogers said ‘We’re running a campaign to win.’ In
  other words, we don’t care what the media think. Michael Cohen has a
  column in the NY Times about lying anno 2008. Ruth Marcus has one on
  what an economist called ‘the symmetry of sin.’ The idea is that if
  a reporter criticizes McCain or Palin for lying, they have an
  obligation to criticize Obama or Biden for lying, too. But she
  argues that it is not symmetric this year. Obama has been stretching
  the truth a little bit like quoting McCain on staying in Iraq for
  100 years (which he did say) but leaving out the part where he
  compared it to the U.S. military presence in Germany for 60 years.
  In contrast, McCain and Palin have told out-and-out lies (e.g.,
  about how Obama would raise everyone’s taxes, something he never
  said) and repeated them even after they were pointed out numerous
  times.” As David Corn points out, the “strategic goal” of these
  attacks is “to keep Obama pinned down. Should the Obama campaign
  waste time knocking down these purposeful errors and excessive spin?
  That would be letting McCain shape the debate to his advantage. But
  if the campaign allows this stuff to hit the wall — and maybe stick
  — the McCain mob wins.”
SOURCE: Electoral-Vote.com, September 17, 2008

  “A new group financed by a Texas billionaire and organized by some
  of the same political operatives and donors behind the Swift Boat
  Veterans for Truth campaign against Sen. John F. Kerry in 2004 plans
  to begin running television ads attacking Barack Obama,” report
  Matthew Mosk and Chris Cillizza. The American Issues Project, funded
  by Dallas businessman Harold Simmons, has amassed a
  multimillion-dollar fund to run the ads. Republican activists Chris
  LaCivita and Tony Feather are also involved in organizing the group.
  “The resurgence on the right appears as though it will not go
  unanswered,” add Mosk and Cillizza. “The Service Employees
  International Union is set to unveil a multimillion-dollar
  television campaign on Monday, and other liberal and
  Democratic-aligned groups are rushing to establish financing for
  efforts over the final weeks of the campaign.”
SOURCE: Washington Post, September 13, 2008


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