Why Karen Ryan Deserved What She Got

Journalism professor Jay Rosen has written a commentary about Karen Ryan, the public relations consultant who got caught posing as a reporter in a video news release produced for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to praise the Bush administration's controversial new Medicare bill. "If Karen Ryan belonged to a real profession, responsible members of that fraternity would denounce her fakery, and renounce the practice of sticking simulated reporters into video clips so as to maximize the illusion of independent journalism and serious fact-finding," Rosen writes. "A real profession would be criticizing the government for abusing the practice of public relations. ... PR's 'just fake it' mentality has advanced so far into normal practice, all over our public culture, left, middle and right, that it usually seems pointless to object. Yet in the case of Ryan we find someone so saturated with the PR mentality, with fakery as a normal condition in life, that she cannot distinguish between criticism of her creepy practice, ('I'm Karen Ryan reporting') and the world shouting at her: you're such a horrible person, Karen! ... Could most Americans - Republicans, Democrats, Bush haters, Bush supporters, white collar, blue collar - even complete the kind of act in question, which involves lying with smooth demeanor about who you are, falsifying what you do for a living, tapping the remaining credibility of another profession to promote your own, and hoping you make it on the air to complete the government's deception?"