THE WEEKLY SPIN, Wednesday, March 9 2005

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1. The Fix Behind Fixing Social Security

1. Lobbyist for the ‘little people‘?
2. The War of the Words
3. The Orange Revolution Will Not Be Televised
4. FreedomWorks Hard for the Money
5. Must’ve Herd Her Wrong
6. Between Iraq and a Hard Place
7. No Better Recipient?
8. Confrontational Democracy
9. Casting a Wide Net
10. Terrorist or Activist?
11. Hiring Real Reporters for Fake News
12. Marketers of Death


by Laura Miller In late February, deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove, National Economics Council director Al Hubbard, and Barry Jackson, a special assistant to the president who is handling Social Security reform, met with administration-friendly lobbyists for a “rah-rah” cheerleading session on Social Security privatization. According to The Hill, representatives from the conservative 60 Plus Association, the business funded Coalition for the Modernization and Protection of America’s Social Security(COMPASS), America’s Community Bankers, the National Retail Federation, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the Business Roundtable heard the trio reiterate George W. Bush’s commitment to “reform” Social Security. ‘’Karl Rove talked about its importance to the president’s agenda, and Al Hubbard talked about its importance to the economy,’’ a spokesperson from the Roundtable told Bloomberg News.

‘’The White House is running this as if it’s a political campaign,’’ Free Enterprise Fund president Stephan Moore told Bloomberg. “There are regular meetings the White House has with all the groups to make sure everyone is singing from the same hymnal.”
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David Earnshaw, the Managing Director of the Brussels office of Burson-Marsteller subsidiary BKSH & Associates, has rejected calls for stricter regulation of European Union lobbyists preferring self-regulation instead. “If you regulate strictly, the people who get hurt are the little people — the people who do not have a voice — not the people who can bend the rules,” he told the Washington Times. BKSH clients have included GE, Yukos Oil, Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress.
SOURCE: Washington Times, March 8, 2005
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When is a terrorist not a terrorist? When is a “reform” a reform? New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent mulls some of the ways that language is used to spin perceptions in modern politics. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, he says, “may yield the most linguistically volatile issues confronting Times editors, but I’ve encountered a ferocious tug-of-war between advocates of each of the following as well: Genital mutilation vs. genital cutting (’would you call ritual male circumcision “genital mutilation”?’). Liberal vs. moderate (’you’re simply trying to make liberalism look reasonable and inoffensive’ as in calling Michael Bloomberg a ‘moderate Republican’). Abuse vs. torture (’if the Abu Ghraib victims had been American soldiers,’ The Times ‘would have described it as torture’). Partial birth vs. intact dilation and extraction (the use of the former demonstrates that The Times ‘has embraced the terminology of anti-abortion forces’). ‘Iraqi forces’ vs. ‘American-backed forces’ (’aren’t the Sunni insurgents Iraqis?’). Don’t get me started on ‘insurgents,’ much less homeless vs. vagrant, affirmative action vs. racial preferences, or loophole vs. tax incentive.” And, he adds, “Hijacking the language proves especially pernicious when government officials deodorize their programs with near-Orwellian euphemism. (If Orwell were writing ‘Politics and the English Language’ today, he’d need a telephone book to contain his ‘catalog of swindles and perversions.’) The Bush administration has been especially good at this; just count the number of times self-anointing phrases like ‘Patriot Act,’ ‘Clear Skies Act’ or ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ appear in The Times, at each appearance sounding as wholesome as a hymn.”
SOURCE: New York Times, March 6, 2005
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Reportedly hoping to land “a nice local technology story,” a partner in the Washington DC area firm Rock Creek Creative “issued a news release touting the company’s role in (Ukraine’s) Orange Revolution.” Instead, Russian media “seized on Rock Creek’s release as proof that the United States had meddled in the Ukrainian presidential election.” The firm later backpedaled, saying it had been hired by the nonprofit Global Fairness Initiative just “to develop a Web site and strategy for a February 2004 conference in Kiev called ‘Ukraine in Europe and the World.’” The incident, which “embarrassed the Yushchenko regime,” was “a catastrophe,” said Global Fairness Institute’s director.
SOURCE: Washington Post, March 7, 2005
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Speaking as the co-chair of FreedomWorks on CNBC last December, Dick Armey “spoke glowingly of ‘Rx Outreach,’ a national mail order program for low-income people that had just been launched by Express Scripts.” FreedomWorks was “working with Express Scripts’ public relations firm,” Fleishman-Hillard, at the time, and “issued a press release praising Rx Outreach” the following week. Now, “Express Scripts says it plans to donate money to Armey’s group.” As a result, some are questioning “FreedomWorks’ tax-exempt status because it appears that the group was a ‘mouthpiece’ for hire.” The incident “highlights the often ambiguous role that some Washington think tanks and nonprofit groups play in political advocacy and their often-undisclosed connections to those who would benefit.”
SOURCE: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 5, 2005
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University of California-Davis nutritionist Lindsay Allen says reporters “hyped” her concerns, when she was quoted at the February meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science as saying, “It’s unethical for parents to bring up their children as strict vegans.” Allen says strict vegetarian diets are unethical, unless “missing nutrients” are added “through supplements or fortified foods.” Allen’s research with Kenyan children found that their development improved when their nutrient-deficient diets were supplemented with meat or milk. Her research was partially funded by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and its publication supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization, Land O’Lakes, Heifer International, and Pond Dynamics and Aquaculture-CRSP.
SOURCE: California Aggie, March 2, 2005
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In Iraq, “the various factions seem to want everyone – including the press – to choose sides,” writes Columbia Journalism Review. “The Arab media are finding themselves increasingly reliant on secondhand accounts and official reports from Washington and Baghdad,” especially after Iraq’s Media High Commission and interim government barred Al Jazeera, and Al Arabiya reduced their Iraq presence, due to increasing violence. Threats or missiles have shaken the Azzaman, Al-Itijah al-Akhar, and Al Mada newspapers. And “eighteen of the twenty-three journalists killed in Iraq last year – and all of the sixteen slain media-support workers – were Arabs or Kurds.”
SOURCE: Columbia Journalism Review, January / February, 2005
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The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism will give its first ever Dean’s Medal for Public Service to Daniel Edelman, the founder and chair of “the largest independent public relations firm in the world.” The award “honors extraordinary lifetime achievement” by alumni, “for their contributions to society through professional accomplishments and civic involvement.” While Daniel Edelman has contributed to many community groups, his firm’s questionable work includes NGO “engagement,” anti-estate tax front group, Microsoft anti-litigation, and pro-tobacco campaigns.
SOURCE: O’Dwyer’s PR Daily (reg. req’d.), March 2, 2005
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“The State Department is looking for ‘appropriate opportunities’ to spend money inside and outside Iran,” to “foster opposition” as part of “a more confrontational democratization effort.” The Los Angeles Times writes, “The United States is already spending $14.7 million a year to broadcast Persian-language radio and television programs into Iran.” The broadcasts include Voice of America TV and radio and Radio Farda, “which aims to lure a youthful audience with hard news and popular music.” The Bush administration is seeking a $5.7 million funding increase for Iranian broadcasts in 2006.
SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, March 4, 2005
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Doug Ireland notes that, due to a legal decision, the Federal Election Commission is beginning to extend the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 to the Internet. Republican commissioner Bradley Smith says one issue they’ve “argued over, debated, wrestled with, is how to value assistance to a campaign.” Major questions include, “If someone sets up a homepage and links to their favorite politician, is that a contribution?” and “Do we give bloggers the press exemption?” Smith warns, “I think grassroots Internet activity is in danger. The impact would affect email lists. … It’s going to be bizarre.”
SOURCE: CNET News, March 3, 2005
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10. TERRORIST OR ACTIVIST?,14124,1428024,00.html
“Under the draconian conditions of the USA Patriot Act,” reports the Guardian, “the FBI can use covert surveillance of ‘terrorists’ without the necessity of getting a judicial warrant.” Last year, the FBI identified “animal rights extremists and eco-terrorism” as “a domestic terrorism investigative priority,” concerning even mainstream environmental groups. In 2003, an FBI Special Operations Group investigating a California Hummer and SUV arson attack raided an innocent young activists’ home. He said, “They weren’t looking for bombs or explosives. … They went for everyone’s computers and phone address books. A couple of days later, they started calling people.”
SOURCE: Guardian, March 2, 2005
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“The Department of Homeland Security has tapped Ogilvy PR to provide real journalists for its biennial mock terrorist exercise,” reports PR Week. (An earlier Spin noted the TOPOFF 3 exercise.) Ogilvy “will pick six journalists to cover the simulated attack,” for what DHS is calling the Virtual News Network. Other activities will occur in Britain. Ogilvy has assisted with the TOPOFF exercises since 2000. Although participating journalists “cannot currently be accredited to a news organization,” media ethicists have questioned government payments to reporters.
SOURCE: PR Week (reg. req’d.), March 2, 2005
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“The U.S. Army is adjusting its marketing pitch to minorities as the war in Iraq hurts recruiting efforts among Hispanics and, especially, African-Americans,” reports Advertising Age. Leo Burnett is the Army’s lead marketing agency, with Cartel Creativo doing Hispanic, and Muse Cordero Chen & Partners and Vital Marketing Group doing African-American, outreach. The Army will “maintain a minority presence in general-market advertising, craft minority-specific messages,” and “focus Spanish-language messages at parents and ‘influencers.’” Political science professor Peter Feaver expressed skepticism, saying, “If the problem is Iraq, there’s not much in the short run that the Army recruiters can do.”
SOURCE: Advertising Age, February 28, 2005
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