Flacks Americana

Franklin Foer looks at the rise of John Rendon, whose PR firm is working for the Pentagon in the "war on terrorism." Using techniques that he learned running U.S. election campaigns, Rendon focuses on media strategies (as opposed to "grassroots PR," which Foer suggests would be more effective at combatting Muslim fundamentalism). He has a reputation for overcharging for his services, which are sometimes shockingly inept. So why does the government keep hiring him to run propaganda campaigns in places like Panama, Kuwait, the Balkans and Afghanistan? Answer: Rendon has friends at at all of the government agencies that do the hiring. "He is, after all, nothing if not superbly networked," Foer writes. According to political consultant Joel McCleary, Rendon has "developed a niche. Nobody else does what he does. Nobody else has mastered the complexities of government contracting or knows the people with power. He's all alone."