Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Weekly Spin, May 31, 2006

THE WEEKLY SPIN, May 31, 2006

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1. It's Clobberin' Time
2. Scandals, Scandals, Scandals.

1. Shredding Policy Haunts British American Tobacco
2. Donations Tie Drug Firms and Nonprofits
3. Questioning the NY Times' Nuclear Option
4. Iraq the Most Deadly War for Reporters
5. Pentagon Primes Propaganda Plan
6. Publicis PR Affiliate Seeking to Mute Bad PR?
7. "Fake TV News" Report Now in PDF Form
8. CMD Report "Fake TV News" Triggers FCC Investigation
9. Lincoln Logs More Propaganda Work in Iraq



by Sheldon Rampton

Our senior researcher, Diane Farsetta, is one "bad mamma jamma"
according to Ed Husar of "The Quincy Dump," who interviewed her for
his blog about the Fake TV News report that she co-wrote and
researched with Dan Price.
"The Quincy Dump" is focused on the problem of media
consolidation in Quincy, Illinois, which Husar says is "one of nine
communities in the country where one company is allowed to own
television, radio and the only newspaper in the same market. It is
because of this cross ownership that so much Quincy media news goes
unreported and Quincy media ethics go unchecked." Quincy Newspapers
Incorporated owns WSJV-TV, a Fox Network affiliate in South Bend,
Indiana that broadcast one of the video news releases featured in
Diane and Dan's report.
For the rest of this story, visit:

by Conor Kenny

The biggest news in the Capitol this week was undoubtedly the May 20
raid of the congressional offices of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.)
by FBI agents. The agents were part of a “public corruption and
government fraud squad” and stayed for 17 hours, searching and
cataloguing evidence in the bribery investigation surrounding
Jefferson, in which two of his associates have already pleaded
guilty. The FBI filed an affidavit to support their application for
a search warrant that spelled out their evidence against Jefferson.
We’ve gone through it line by line and entered all the details
into Jefferson’s Congresspedia profile. You’ve really got to
read it to believe it.
For the rest of this story, visit:


British American Tobacco (BAT) has suffered a major legal setback
after a Sydney judge found that the company's "document retention
policy," under which sensitive documents were shredded, had been
developed "in furtherance of the commission of a fraud." In a case
before the New South Wales Dust Diseases Tribunal, Justice Jim
Curtis heard uncontested evidence from former BAT solicitor Fred
Gulson that the policy was designed so that the company could shred
potentially damaging documents. Curtis said that the policy created
"the pretence of a rational non-selective housekeeping policy." The
case before the tribunal will hear argument on whether BAT should
bear part of the compensation costs of a lung cancer victim who was
a smoker and was exposed to asbestos. BAT has been directed to
produce relevant documents within two weeks for a trial that
commences on June 26.
SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald, May 30, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

"The American Diabetes Association, a leading patient health group,
privately enlisted an Eli Lilly & Co. executive to chart its growth
strategy and write its slogan. The National Alliance on Mental
Illness, an outspoken patient advocate, lobbies for treatment
programs that also benefit its drug-company donors. ... Although
patients seldom know it, many patient groups and drug companies
maintain close, multimillion-dollar relationships while disclosing
limited or no details about the ties," reports Thomas Ginsberg. In
some cases, companies have "loaned" the services of their executives
to advise or even lead patient groups. Ginsberg's investigation
found that "the groups rarely disclose such ties when commenting or
lobbying about donors' drugs. They also tend to be slower to
publicize treatment problems than breakthroughs. And few openly
questioned drug prices."
SOURCE: Philadelphia Inquirer, May 28, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

Peter Montague, of the environmental publication Rachel's News,
responds to the New York Times' pro-nuclear power editorial from May
13, 2006. The newspaper claimed that "nuclear power is looking
better," due to high energy prices and global warming. Montague
writes, "Even after taking into consideration the large quantities
of fossil fuels required for mining, processing, and enriching fuel,
and in plant construction, operation, waste disposal and plant
decommissioning, nuclear power could reduce carbon dioxide emissions
by some amount while generating electricity. The question is, are
there better ways to achieve the same result?" The Times suggested
that nuclear waste be stored at surface sites "for the next 50 to
100 years," as longer-term storage is developed. Montague argues,
"Fifty years of study and experiment have yielded no useful
solutions." He also warns, "The connection between nuclear power and
nuclear bombs simply cannot be broken." With regard to federal
subsidies, Montague asks, "Why aren't we willing to spend $77
billion to subsidize energy-saving measures, and the development of
existing minimally-polluting technologies?" The business publication
Forbes agrees, stating, "Nuclear is not profitable without a raft of
government subsidies."
SOURCE: CounterPunch, May 27-29, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

The Iraq war "is now the deadliest war for reporters in the past
century," reports Editor and Publisher. Seventy-one journalists and
26 media support staff have been killed in Iraq since 2003. That
compares to 69 journalists killed in World War II, 63 in Vietnam and
17 in Korea. In addition, at least 42 journalists have been
kidnapped in Iraq, according to Reporters Without Borders. As the
New York Times notes, "it is Iraqi journalists who have been most at
risk. Just this month, three Iraqi reporters were killed in a
two-week period." The news comes as CBS reports that two of its crew
members were killed in Iraq. Cameraman Paul Douglas and soundman
James Brolan are believed to be "the first embedded journalists to
die since 2003."
SOURCE: Editor and Publisher, May 29, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

The Pentagon's new "strategic communications roadmap" will soon be
approved, according to U.S. News and World Report. The plan seeks to
"create a culture" that sees strategic communications as "not just
public affairs, information operations or psychological operations,
legislative affairs or public diplomacy, but ... the totality of
that that you have to work to be effective," explained Lt. Gen. Gene
Renuart of the Joint Staff. The Pentagon has already established a
Strategic Communications secretariat, to "research important or
contentious issues, such as the recent Dubai ports debate"; a
Strategic Communications Integration Group "will decide how to
handle those issues." In 2004, the U.S. Strategic Command
established a Joint Information Operations Center in San Antonio,
Texas, to send support teams "to the various combatant commands in
the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Latin America." And the Special
Operations Command in Tampa, Florida, sends psychological operations
units around the world.
SOURCE: U.S. News and World Report, May 29, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

Last July, labor activist Junya Lek Yimprasert took up the cause of
five women workers dismissed by the Thai subsidiary of the global PR
firm Publicis Groupe. She described alleged sexual discrimination
and intimidation at the firm's Bankok office to reporter Stephen
Frost of CSR Asia (PDF). Two months later, Publicis filed a
complaint of "defamation by propagation" in Bankok against
Yimprasert, ostensibly for posting the CSR Asia article on her Thai
Labour Campaign's (TLC) website. In Thailand, such a complaint is
investigated and potentially prosecuted in criminal court, according
to our own conversation with Publicis legal counsel Russell Kelley.
The Southern Bankok Criminal Court prosecutor summoned Yimprasert
and brought charges. The court set a concilation date for May 31,
2006, with trial dates in November 2006. "I think the prosecution is
pursuing the case because it feels there are grounds to do so,"
Kelley told PR Watch. Meanwhile, a global appeal has been launched
on behalf of Yimprasert, accusing Publicis of attempting to
intimidate TLC into silence.
SOURCE: Thai Labour Campaign, October 2005
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

With the U.S. Federal Communications Commission investigating the
television stations that CMD documented airing corporate video news
releases, you might want to read through the report that started it
all. Luckily, "Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed" is now
available in PDF format! Download it from our website, print it out
and take it along on your summer holiday. It's 114 pages long --
chock full of important information, harrowing tales of media
deception, and some great puns. The URL to download the report is:
SOURCE: Center for Media and Democracy, May 26, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

Bloomberg reports that, in direct response to CMD's groundbreaking
exposé 'Fake TV News,' the "Federal Communications Commission
Chairman Kevin Martin ordered a probe of dozens of television
stations. ... The April report by the non-profit Center for Media
and Democracy found at least 77 stations, including 23 affiliates of
Walt Disney Co.'s ABC network and seven Sinclair Broadcast Group
Inc. stations, ignored an FCC warning to disclose sponsors. The
maximum fine for each violation is $32,500, rising to $325,000 for
multiple infractions, said FCC spokesman Clyde Ensslin. 'If the
investigation leads to significant fines, the FCC could cause
stations to put disclosures in place that make clearer the corporate
role in local news,' said analyst Blair Levin of Stifel Nicolaus &
Co. in Washington. 'It depends how hard Martin wants to push it.'"
SOURCE: Bloomberg, May 25, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

It was reported previously that Rear Adm. Scott Van Buskirk's review
of U.S. propaganda efforts in Iraq found that no regulations were
violated by the "multipronged campaign." According to the New York
Times, the three-page summary of the Pentagon review calls the
military's covert authorship of Iraqi newspaper articles
"appropriate," but suggests new guidelines to "determine when
attribution may be appropriate." Without mentioning the Lincoln
Group, the PR firm that planted the pro-U.S. stories, the review
emphasizes the importance of "proper oversight" of contractors on
propaganda programs. The review is critical of the U.S.-created
Baghdad Press Club, saying the military's "direct oversight of an
apparently independent news organization and remuneration for
articles that are published will undoubtedly raise questions focused
on 'truth and credibility,' that will be difficult to deflect." The
New York Times reports, "Several Pentagon officials said the Lincoln
Group and other contractors were still involved in placing
propaganda messages in Iraqi publications and on television."
SOURCE: New York Times, May 24, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:


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