James Hoggan, the director of the James Hoggan & Associates public relations firm, has authored a book titled Climate Cover Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming, in which he describes PR techniques that industry groups use to create the impression of a scientific controversy about climate change. Industries set up front groups, Hoggan says, like the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which tried to convince Americans in electoral swing states that coal is clean. Front groups like Americans for Prosperity, which organized the disruptive August, 2009 town hall meeting protests, started out by paying for protesters. Hoggan reports seeing documents that show PR firms charged $1800 per protester. "Companies can buy protesters, and if you are clever with your framing of the issue, these paid protesters attract real protesters," Hoggan explains. His book also reveals the strategy of framing global warming as a United Nations scheme, or a scam by international scientists, to appeal to people who "don't like being told what to do by the UN or some foreigners." The most powerful tools used to manipulate public opinion, Hoggan says, are focus groups, which help PR companies understand how people think on certain issues. Another is the creation of "echo chambers," that involve generating favorable news reports that are repeated over and over by media outlets until the public finally starts repeating it back. "Get Dick Cheney and George Bush and Fox News and the Competitive Enterprise Institute to talk and then just keep repeating what they say -- 'the science is not settled, the science is not settled, the science is not settled' -- until the public starts repeating it back. It’s a frightening phenomenon," Hogan says.
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