Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Weekly Spin, June 14, 2006

THE WEEKLY SPIN, June 14, 2006

Sponsored by the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy:

To support our work now online visit:|1118-0


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.



Who do you know who might want to receive "The Weekly Spin"? Help
us grow our subscriber list! Just forward this message to people
you know, encouraging them to sign up at this link:



1. Confronted with Disclosure Demands, Fake News Moguls Cry "Censorship!"

1. Big Dose Of PR For Pfizer
2. America's Slip is Showing
3. Big Tobacco's Covert Witness Program
4. How Big Tobacco 'Protects' Non-Smokers
5. Spinning to their Graves
6. Ann Coulter's PR Formula: Hate Speech + Media Coverage = Best-Seller
7. Antibiotic Trial Continues Despite Reported Threat to Children
8. Burson-Marsteller Lands Tuna Account
9. Red-Faced Broadcast Execs Resist Reform



by Diane Farsetta

Be afraid, be very afraid! If television stations are required to
abide by existing regulations and label the corporate and government
propaganda they routinely pass off as "news," the First Amendment
will be shredded, the freedom of the press repealed, and TV stations
will collapse overnight!
At least, that's what the public relations firms that produce
and distribute video news releases (VNRs) and other forms of fake
news would have you believe. PR firms are banding together and
launching lobbying and PR campaigns to counter the growing call for
full disclosure of VNRs, the sponsored video segments frequently
aired by TV newsrooms as though they were independently-produced
For the rest of this story, visit:


Pfizer has hired Clark & Weinstock, a New York and Washington D.C.
based "management consulting firm" that "specializes in reputation
and crisis management" and "the development of business ethics and
corporate responsibility programs." O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports that
the company has been hired as a lobbyist "for general representation
and issues concerning Medicare/Medicaid and pharmaceutical research
& development." The 11-person team assigned to the account includes
former Minnesota Republican Congressman, Vin Weber. Weber is also
Chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy and a board member
of both the Aspen Institute and Citizens Against Government Waste.
He was also involved with the neo-conservative network, the Project
for a New American Century. In mid-June two men announced they were
suing Pfizer, alleging serious side effects from the
anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor.
SOURCE: O'Dwyers PR Daily, June 13, 2006. (Sub req'd.)
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

"As the war in Iraq continues for a fourth year, the global image of
America has slipped further, even among people in some countries
closely allied with the United States," reports Brian Knowlton,
citing a new opinion poll by the Pew Research Center. The poll found
significant declines in esteem for the United States in countries
including Spain, India, Russia, Indonesia and Turkey, and smaller
declines in France, Germany and Jordan. "Obviously, when you get
many more people saying that the U.S. presence in Iraq is a threat
to world peace as say that about Iran, it's a measure of how much
Iraq is sapping good will to the United States," said Pew president
Andrew Kohut.
SOURCE: New York Times, June 14, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

In a February 1989 speech to the Executive Committee of the
now-defunct Tobacco Institute, the group's Senior Vice President,
Charles Powers, sought to save the industry's covert "Scientific
Witness" program from impending budget cuts. The program, he said,
featured experts "who are our front line of defense in tax, public
smoking and advertising hearings every day." Powers complained that
"scientists will not buck for love" the scientific consensus on the
link between environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and health impacts.
"It takes money," he said. "The Institute can't do it and be taken
seriously. We need people who have earned reputations as serious
researchers...who can review and critique articles, publish and act
as peer reviewers," he said. Powers estimated that it cost an
average of $40,000 and took six weeks to identify and train a single
SOURCE: Anne Landman's Collection, June 11, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company has contributed $10,000 to an
Arizona group, the Non-Smoker Protection Committee. The group is
proposing a ballot initiative in favour of The Arizona Non-Smoker
Protection Act which it claims would create "a balanced, reasonable,
consistent, statewide non-smoking law, protecting minors and
preserving private property rights." In fact, the initiative would
overturn existing smoking bans in cities such as Tempe and would
prevent other cities from instituting them. Dr. Leland Fairbanks, a
retired doctor, told Associated Press that the name of the
tobacco-friendly proposal has fooled some people into signing the
petition supporting the initiative being placed on the
ballot."There's a lot of deception going on," Fairbanks said. "Many
people think they're signing the health one, but they're signing the
R.J. Reynolds one. They're mad, and they should be." Tobacco control
groups are proposing an alternative initiative, the Smoke-Free
Arizona Act.
SOURCE: Charlotte Observer, June 12, 2006.
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

The three recent suicides by detainees at the Guantanamo Bay
detention camp, referred to as “the gulag of our times” by
Amnesty International, are apparently not what they would seem.
Administration officials rejected suggestions the three had killed
themselves out of despair at their indefinite confinement. “It
does sound like this is part of a strategy in that they don’t
value their own lives … they certainly don't value ours and they
use suicide bombings as a tactic,” Colleen Graffy, the deputy
assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy, told the BBC on
Sunday. “Taking their own lives was not necessary, but it
certainly is a good PR move to draw attention.” The camp's
commander, Rear Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., said the suicides were
an al-Qaeda tactic. “They have no regard for life, neither ours
nor their own,” he said. “I believe this was not an act of
desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.”
SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald, June 13, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

David Carr examines Ann Coulter's simple PR formula for marketing
her best-selling books: vile hate speech echoed in the mainstream
media. In her five books Ann Coulter has "suggested wistfully that
Timothy McVeigh should have parked his truck in front of the New
York Times, joked that a Supreme Court justice should be poisoned,
and said that America should invade Muslim countries and kill their
leaders." Bob Wietrak of Barnes & Noble observes Ann Coulter's "fan
base is phenomenal and she is in the media constantly. When she is
in the media, it creates more media coverage. And every single day,
the book sells more." TV loves Ann Coulter Carr concludes because
"seeing hate-speech pop out of a blonde who knows her way around a
black cocktail dress makes for compelling viewing. ... You can
accuse her of cynicism all you want, but the fact that she is one of
the leading political writers of our age says something about the
rest of us."
SOURCE: New York Times, June 12, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

A new antibiotic that has been found to cause four times the average
rate of acute liver failure in adults continues in a trial for more
than 900 children worldwide, despite criticism from a U.S. Food and
Drug Administration official and a study consultant. The drug, Ketek
(internationally known as Telithromycin) is manufactured by
Sanofi-Aventis, a French pharmaceutical firm with U.S. headquarters
in New Jersey. The company has defended the antibiotic as safe when
used as directed. "How does one justify balancing the risk of fatal
liver failure against one day less of ear pain?" asks Dr. Rosemary
Johann-Liang, of the FDA's Office of Drug Safety, in a memo
uncovered by the Times. Duke University infectious disease
specialist Dr. Danny Benjamin echoes the concern, calling the
pediatric trial "hard to support." Benjamin is especially critical
of testing the antibiotic for routine ear infections at a time when
antibiotics are less frequently recommended for pediatric treatment.
Yet, the FDA's own website continues to promote the pediatric trial.
SOURCE: The New York Times, June 8, 2006 (reg req'd)
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

The PR firm Ruder Finn has lost the account working for the U.S.
Tuna Foundation to defend human consumption of canned tuna
containing high levels of mercury. Burson-Marsteller has landed the
account. "Amid the transition, Burson is working to challenge a
widely cited Consumer Reports study published this month which found
canned light tuna can contain higher levels of mercury than other
tuna and could pose serious problems to an unborn child," O'Dwyer's
reports. The foundation has also appointed Anne Forristall Luke, a
former "principal at Washington, D.C. firm MGN and former public
affairs practice head for Ketchum," to head the organization.
SOURCE: O'Dwyers PR Daily (sub req'd), June 8, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

The President of the Radio-Television News Directors Association
(RTNDA), Barbara Cochran, has conceded the accuracy of the recent
Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) report, Fake TV News:
Widespread and Undisclosed. "We had good reason to think that many
of the video examples posted on the CMD website were simple errors,
not deliberate attempts to fool the public, but the similarities
between newscast stories and video news releases (VNRs) were
embarrassing," Cochran said in a statement. While RTNDA may be
red-faced, they are still resisting reforms that would mandate
disclosure of VNRs to viewers. Meanwhile, the owner of KEF Media
Associates, Kevin E. Foley, has abandoned even referring to VNRs,
preferring to call them "TV press releases" instead. The Federal
Communications Commission investigation into undisclosed use of
VNRs, he complains, represents a threat to "the free speech rights
of my corporate clients."
SOURCE: O'Dwyers PR Daily (sub req'd), June 8, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:


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:

Daily updates and news from past weeks can be found in the "Spin of
the Day" section of CMD's website:

Archives of our quarterly publication, PR Watch, are at:

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

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:


Contributions to the Center for Media and Democracy are
tax-deductible. Send checks to:
520 University Avenue, Suite 227
Madison, WI 53703

To donate now online, visit:|1118-0
Weekly-Spin mailing list

No comments: