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.




1. Moore Spin: Or, How Reporters Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nuclear Front Groups

2. Tracking the Front Group “Boomerang”

3. Help Solve the Mystery – For Whom Were the Fired U.S. Attorneys Pushed Aside?


1. MoveOn — End This War or Manage This War?

2. Medical Journal In Double Bubble with Apparent Beverage Industry Conflict

3. Yet Another Fake News Epidemic

4. “Public Intellectuals” Don’t Come Cheap

5. Destroying Journalism in Order to Save It

6. Latest Version of Pay for Play: Bucks for Blogs

7. Winning Hearts, Minds and Arabic Blogs

8. Code (Red) for Cause-Related Marketing

9. Exxon Mobil Partnership Proves Costly for Stanford

10. Seven Papers Axe Coulter’s Column

11. Light Shy Lobbyists

12. David Outsmarts Mining Goliath

13. American Heart Association Sticks with Smoky Partner




by Diane Farsetta

       “We just find it maddening that Hill & Knowlton, which has an

  $8 million account with the nuclear industry, should have such an

  easy time working the press,” concluded the Columbia Journalism

  Review in an editorial in its July / August 2006 issue.

       The magazine was rightly bemoaning the tendency of news

  outlets to present former Greenpeace activist Patrick Moore and

  former EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman as environmentalists who

  support nuclear power, without noting that both are paid

  spokespeople for a group bankrolled by the Nuclear Energy Institute

  (NEI).  NEI represents nuclear power plant operators, plant

  designers, fuel suppliers and other sectors of the nuclear power

  industry.  Hill & Knowlton is NEI’s public relations firm, though

  it’s not the only firm working to build support for nuclear power.

       Thanks in part to an ongoing, multifaceted PR push — along

  with very real concerns about energy prices, rising energy demand,

  aging infrastructure, sustainability and global warming — nuclear

  power is attracting serious attention from reporters and

  policymakers alike.  The question is whether a vital public debate

  over energy choices is being skewed by deep-pocketed interests with

  a dog in the fight.

       The dangers of such distortions are especially acute at the

  state and local levels.  That’s where efforts to extend the licenses

  of existing nuclear power plants, to maintain or expand nuclear

  waste storage facilities, and to site new proposed nuclear power

  plants, are made or broken.  And that’s where pro-nuclear

  campaigners appear to be focusing, adopting the mantle and tactics

  of community groups while steadfastly refusing to provide details on

  their operations.

To read the rest of this item, visit:

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by Jonathan Rosenblum

       Corporate front groups can cause a “boomerang effect” to

  their sponsors, damaging the reputations of companies like

  ExxonMobil, Merck, and PepsiCo, when the sponsor’s role in

  misrepresenting issues is widely revealed.  Moreover, advance

  information or instruction can inoculate the public against

  deception, according to a new study published in the February 2007

  issue of Communications Research.

       CMD has exposed corporate and PR front groups for yearssee

  John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton’s six books, not to mention Spin of

  the Day and SourceWatch.  Now, and evidently for the first time,

  scholars have undertaken an experiment to show how people respond to

  and resent corporate manipulation.

To read the rest of this item, visit:

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by Elliott Fullmer

       The nation’s capital has been in an uproar this week over the

  U.S. attorney firings controversy. Both the House and Senate

  Judiciary Committees held hearings Tuesday on the matter, where six

  of eight former U.S. attorneys (all fired in late 2006) testified

  that they had been the target of complaints, telephone calls and

  threats from either a high-ranking Justice Department official or

  members of Congress in the days and weeks preceding their abrupt

  dismissals. The replacements for the attorneys are rumored to be

  political appointees with little prosecutorial experience.

       The story dates back to March 2006, when President Bush

  signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act. The bill included

  a provision (inserted by a staffer to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) at

  the request of the Justice Department) allowing the DOJ to appoint

  U.S. attorneys indefinitely without a presidential nomination or

  Senate confirmation (previously, this type of appointment could last

  only a maximum of 120 days). In late 2006, the administration fired

  eight U.S. attorneys, insisting each dismissal was motivated by


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  Author Norman Solomon editorializes that “Nancy Pelosi is speaker

  of the House, and Harry Reid is majority leader of the Senate. But

  neither speaks for, much less leads, the antiwar movement that we

  need.  When you look at the practicalities of the situation, Pelosi

  and Reid could be more accurately described as speaker and leader

  for the war-management movement.”  Solomon notes that the powerful

  liberal advocacy group  “MoveOn seems to have wrapped itself around

  the political sensibilities of Reid, Pelosi and others at the top of

  Capitol Hill leadership.   …  Last week, while MoveOn was sending

  out a mass e-mail to its 3.2 million members offering free bumper

  stickers urging ‘End This War,’  the MoveOn leadership was

  continuing its failure to back the efforts of the Congressional

  Progressive Caucus for ‘a fully funded, and systematic, withdrawal

  of U.S. soldiers and military contractors from Iraq.’   …  It’s

  good to see MoveOn churning out bumper stickers that advocate an end

  to the Iraq war — but sad to see its handful of decision-makers

  failing to support a measure to fund an orderly and prompt

  withdrawal from the war.”

SOURCE: Common Dreams, Tuesday, March 13, 2007


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  In its current issue, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

  acknowledges that a review of soft drinks and obesity (which

  challenges links between the one and the other) was funded by the

  American Beverage Association. But the journal excludes information

  that one of the authors personally and professionally has had close

  ties to the beverage industry. “(T)he Associated Press reported last

  year that [Researcher Adam] Drewnowski owns stock in beverage

  companies and much of his prior research has been financed by the

  beverage industry,” reports the Center for Science in the Public

  Interest (CSPI).  Another study by Drewnowski was funded by the Corn

  Refiners Association and American Beverage Institute. The journal

  article’s co-author, France Bellisle, for his part, sits on an

  advisory board for McDonald’s.  Researchers, including CSPI staff,

  have written that industry-financed studies predictably reach

  conclusions favorable to the beverage companies.

SOURCE: Center for Science in the Public Interest, March 12, 2007


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  As a result of “hospitals’ desperate need to compete for lucrative

  lines of business” and “TV’s hunger for cheap and easy stories,”

  healthcare companies are increasingly getting into the (fake) news

  business.  Sometimes “the hospitals pay for airtime”; sometimes

  “they don’t but still provide expertise and story ideas” — or

  prepackaged video news releases. “Viewers who think they are getting

  news are really getting a form of advertising,” reports Trudy

  Lieberman. One healthcare company, Cleveland Clinic, “sends out

  prepackaged stories” every day, including to “Fox News Edge, a

  service for Fox affiliates that in turn distributes the pieces to

  140 Fox stations.” And, “since TV news operations are finding that

  they can get this kind of health ‘news’ supplied to them — and

  might even make money on the deal — they are tempted not to invest

  in a legitimate health reporter who would ask harder questions and

  look at the larger picture.” Not surprisingly, Lieberman finds that

  “too often the full nature of the arrangements is not disclosed, or

  inadequately disclosed.”

SOURCE: Columbia Journalism Review, March / April 2007


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  After billionaire insurance mogul Maurice “Hank” Greenberg was

  charged with fraud and insurance and securities violations, he hired

  the eSapience PR firm — whose executives include the dean of MIT’s

  Sloan School of Management — to buff up his image. Now eSapience is

  suing Greenberg for unpaid bills. The lawsuit states that eSapience

  executives “set up a new think tank, the Barbon Institute,

  specifically to provide a credible-sounding new platform for

  Greenberg” to give an “image-rehabilitating speech.” Greenberg is

  disputing $2 million in charges racked up by eSapience executives

  who billed him $400 to $1,000 hourly — rates that they said

  “reflected the level of detail, sophistication, and status necessary

  to present Greenberg in the best light and to assure the presence

  and participation of key intellectual and public figures.”

SOURCE: Boston Globe, March 10, 2007


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  While fleeing an ambush in Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers reportedly

  opened fire on civilian cars and pedestrians and then destroyed

  photos and video taken at the scene by freelance journalists.

  Destroying the evidence was necessary, a military official explained

  later, to protect “investigative integrity” because photos or video

  taken by “untrained people” might “capture visual details that are

  not as they originally were.” He added, “We are completely committed

  to a free and independent press, and we hope that we can help

  encourage this tradition in places where new and free governments

  are taking root.” Associated Press Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll

  remained unconvinced. “In democratic societies,” she noted,

  “legitimate journalists are allowed to work without having their

  equipment seized and their images deleted.”

SOURCE: Miami Herald, March 10, 2007


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  Beware the blog that gushes about a product, movie, or anything

  you might consider purchasing. There’s a chance that the blogger is

  on the payroll of “new marketing middlemen such as PayPerPost Inc.

  that connect advertisers with mom-and-pop webmasters.” PayPerPost

  alone pays 15,500 bloggers for inserting their clients into blog

  postings. Other companies that pay bloggers for mentions include

  ReviewMe, Loud Launch and Not all bloggers

  think it’s a good idea. “PayPerPost versus authentic blogging is

  like comparing prostitution with making love to someone you care for

  deeply. No one with any level of ethics would get involved with

  these clowns,” said Jason McCabe Calacanis, co-founder of Weblogs

  Inc. The quid pro quo is multilayered; one sponsored blogger’s

  “traffic has doubled thanks partly to PayPerPost’s fanatical users,

  who link often to fellow Posties. That gives her a bigger audience

  for her unpaid musings.” The Federal Trade Commission recently

  directed word-of-mouth marketers to clearly disclose.

SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2007


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  The Washington Times reports on the U.S. State Department’s

  “digital outreach team,” mentioned in a recent interview by Karen

  Hughes, the Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

  “We want to make sure that U.S. views are present in the Arabic

  cyberspace,” said the State Department’s Jeremy Curtin. “The first

  step of success is to be there and have people respond. … The

  second step is to engage in a conversation. We try to adopt an

  informal tone, and we are careful what we say.” The State Department

  team “recently began a thread” on, asking, “Will

  violence end in Iraq if U.S. forces withdraw?” In another online

  engagement described by Curtin, participants challenged “accusations

  that the U.S. military is engaged in widespread rape of men and

  women in Iraq.” A team member explained, “I stated that, when there

  have been cases of misconduct by U.S. soldiers against Iraqi

  civilians, a legal process has been implemented. I also said

  allegations that such misconduct is widespread are untrue and


SOURCE: Washington Times, March 9, 2007


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  A year into the Red campaign — a cause-related marketing effort

  that allows partners to profit from charity — $100 million has been

  spent on marketing, but only $18 million has been raised worldwide

  for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “The

  disproportionate ratio between the marketing outlay and the money

  raised is drawing concern among nonprofit watchdogs, cause-marketing

  experts and even executives in the ad business,” reports Advertising

  Age. “It threatens to spur a backlash, not just against the Red

  campaign … but also for the brands involved,” Gap, Apple and

  Motorola. The Global Fund’s Rajesh Anandan defended Red: “The launch

  cost of this kind of campaign is going to be hugely frontloaded.”

  The website parodies Red, stating, “Shopping is not

  a solution,” and encouraging direct donations to the Global Fund.

  Professor Mark Rosenman explained, “There is a broadening concern

  that business is taking on the patina of philanthropy and crowding

  out philanthropic activity and even substituting for it. It benefits

  the for-profit partners much more than the charitable causes.”

SOURCE: Advertising Age, March 5, 2007


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  “Exxon Mobil has teamed up with Stanford University to find

  breakthrough technologies that deliver more energy while reducing

  greenhouse gas emissions,” enthuses a TV commercial by the oil

  giant. Under Exxon Mobil’s partnership with Stanford, first

  announced in 2002, the university “will get up to $100 million from

  the company over 10 years to fund climate and energy research.”

  After seeing the ads, major Stanford donor Steve Bing “decided to

  rescind a promised $2.5 million donation to the school.” He is also

  “asking other major philanthropists to reconsider their promises to

  give to the Stanford cause,” and is pushing for “an end to the

  4-year-old ad campaign.” Bing’s advisor on climate issues said,

  “Exxon Mobil is trying to greenwash itself, and it’s using Stanford

  as its brush.” A Stanford spokesperson countered, “We are proud of

  our work on seeking solutions to serious energy and environmental

  problems and our collaborations in these areas with a variety of

  private and non-profit organizations.” An earlier Exxon print ad,

  carrying the Stanford seal, “suggested that scientists were debating

  the cause of global warming.”

SOURCE: Mercury News (San Jose, CA), March 11, 2007


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  In the last week at least seven newspapers have dropped the

  syndicated column of conservative firebrand Ann Coulter. Speaking at

  the American Conservative Union’s annual Conservative Political

  Action Conference in Washington, D.C. on March 2, Coulter said “I

  was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic

  presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go

  into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I — so kind of an

  impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards.” Newspapers that have

  dropped her column include: Sanford Herald (North Carolina); Daily

  Chronicle (Illinois); American Press (Louisiana); Lancaster New Era

  (Pennsylvania); The Oakland Press, (Michigan); The Mountain Press

  (Tennessee); and The Times (Louisiana). The editorial director of

  The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, David Hampton, said that

  while he disagreed with her opinions, the paper would keep her

  column. “I think her popularity will continue to wane. I believe

  ideas rise and fall on their merits, and I haven’t seen much depth

  in hers,” he said.

SOURCE: Editor & Publisher, March 9, 2007


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  Andrew Parker, the head of the Australian PR and lobbying firm

  Parker & Partners — a part of the Ogilvy PR Worldwide network — is

  worried that the Australian government will re-introduce a system of

  regulating lobbyists. Calls for registering lobbyists have grown in

  the wake of a series of revelations over the lobbying activities of

  former West Australian Premier Brian Burke, who was later imprisoned

  after a Royal commission of Inquiry into business deals done by his

  government. After serving seven months of a two-year prison

  sentence, Burke re-invented himself as a lobbyist. “There is no

  denying the Brian Burkes of this world — those lobbyists who rely

  on personal ‘political mates’ alone — face extinction. But we need

  to speed up this process,” Parker wrote in an opinion column. While

  Parker supports lobbyist registration, he has caveats. “Calls for

  complete financial disclosure are not only unprecedented for other

  professional service sectors but are designed to simply give these

  [anti-business] crusaders the ability to misrepresent and deceive,”

  he complained. In the U.S., lobbyists are required to disclose

  clients and broad details of their work for them.

SOURCE: The Australian, March 9, 2007


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  By invoking Australian copyright law, the New South Wales Minerals

  Council (NSWMC) twice succeeded in shutting down a website that

  satirized its “Life: Brought to you by mining” advertising campaign.

  However, the website of the spoofers, Rising Tide Newcastle, is now

  hosted overseas. Following protests that the mining industry was

  attempting to “silence” them, the environmentalists are enjoying

  more web traffic than their corporate rivals. NSWMC’s chief

  executive, Nikki Williams, said the industry’s campaign is about

  “establishing a fair voice for the mining industry.” Associate

  lecturer in law at the Queensland University of Technology Peter

  Black argues, “This is clearly a situation that would be covered by

  the fair dealing defence of parody and satire. … This is political

  speech that is being suppressed by our copyright regulations, which

  is something that should not happen.” The NSWMC represents major

  mining companies, including subsidiaries of global corporations such

  as BHP-Billiton and Xstrata.

SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald, March 5, 2007


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  The American Heart Association (AHA) is once again partnering with

  the Rite Aid Drug Store chain to promote its “Go Red for Women”

  campaign, aimed at increasing public awareness of heart disease in

  women. But just last year, AHA was embarrassed by the partnership

  after a web site featured photos of AHA’s “healthy heart” posters

  located immediately next to cigarette displays in Rite Aid Stores.

  AHA then promised tobacco control advocates that it would pull its

  partnership with Rite Aid. AHA does not currently list Rite Aid as a

  sponsor on its “Go Red” campaign web site, but the partnership was

  renewed for this Spring’s campaign. Rite Aid is notorious among

  public health advocates, for having launched its own brand of

  cigarettes, for helping the tobacco industry fight anti-tobacco

  legislation, and for fighting a bill to reduce young people’s access

  to cigarettes.

SOURCE: Rite Aid press release, February 1, 2007


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