Manipulation and Spin
The following is from the Center for Media and Democracy's Weekly Spin, an excellent collection of stories about manipulation and messaging:
U.S. MILITARY HAS NO PROBLEM WITH PROPAGANDA
The New York Times reports that the U.S. military's review of a PR firm's covert propaganda program in Iraq, led by Rear Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, has been completed but not made public. According to military officials, "The findings are narrow in focus, and conclude that the Lincoln Group committed no legal violations because its actions in paying to place American [information operations troops]-written articles without attribution were not expressly prohibited by its contract or military rules." The report "did not deal deeply" with such issues as how the small, young, well-connected firm received large government contracts, or whether its work was effective. It also did not address how, "in a modern information world connected by satellite television and the Internet, misleading information and lies could easily migrate into American news outlets." The Lincoln Group's Iraq work, on "a contract estimated at several million dollars," remains "fully in
effect." The firm continues to bid for U.S. government contracts.
NON-PROFIT 'WATCHDOG' WELL FED BY EXXONMOBIL
The Wall Street Journal reports that Public Interest Watch (PIW), a non-profit 'watchdog' group which sucessfully lobbied for an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax audit of Greenpeace, has been heavily funded by ExxonMobil. Two years after PIW urged an IRS
investigation, Greenpeace was subjected to a three-month long audit. Steve Stecklow reports that PIW's "most recent federal tax filing, covering August 2003 to July 2004, states that $120,000 of the $124,094" came from the oil company. ExxonMobil confirmed that they had funded the group at that time but no longer do. According to Greenpeace USA executive director John Passacantando, the IRS auditor, Charles Walker, told him the investigation was in response to PIW's complaint. In March this year Greenpeace was informed that it retained its tax exempt status. PIW's Executive Director Lewis Fein has refused to disclose any of the groups current funders.
SUDAN PROMOTES SELF TO NY TIMES READERS
The Government of Sudan -- tired of international media focusing on the country's ongoing genocide -- paid for an upbeat eight-page advertising insert in Monday's New York Times. O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports that Summit Communications prepared the insert which "extols the investment opportunities in the energy-rich state" but "has no rebuttal to United Nations and U.S. accusations that the Sudanese Government is funding the Arab militia that have raped, murdered and driven two million Darfur villagers into refugee camps." According the its website, Summit Communications specializes in countering the "crisis-driven orientation of American news outlets" that provide "insufficient coverage of the sweeping reforms and positive developments taking place in emerging markets." In their "Africa Policy Outlook 2006" report, Foreign Policy In Focus writes that this year "is likely to be the pivotal year in determining the course of U.S. relations with Sudan and the ultimate response to the genocide in Darfur."