Nestle's Christmas Gift to Ethiopia

Faced with a "mounting public relations disaster" over its attempt to sue the famine-stricken country of Ethiopia for $6 million, the Nestle corporation has promised to donate the money to hunger relief. But Justin Forsyth of the hunger organization Oxfam calls the offer a "half measure" and calls on the company "unambiguously to drop the claim and allow the Ethiopian government to spend the money on famine relief. ... Nestle has had lots of opportunities to back down over the last year.


Memos Cast Shadow on Drug's Promotion

A whistle-blower's lawsuit has unearthed documents showing that the Warner-Lambert pharmaceutical company circumvented the Food and Drug Administration's drug approval process through a PR and advertising campaign. The company's internal memoranda show that it avoided the large clinical trials needed to gain government approval of off-label uses for Neurontin, an epilepsy medicine. Instead, the company paid for small studies and had the results published in medical journals. "The company also hired advertising agencies to help write the medical journal articles," reports Melody Petersen.


Who's the Real Fake?

Oh what a tangled web: "Two giant companies are struggling to shut down parody websites that portray them unfavorably, interrupting internet use for thousands in the process, and filing a lawsuit that pits the formidable legal department of PR giant Burson-Marsteller against a freshman at Hampshire College," writes Paul Hardin (the freshman in question).


The Dow of Satire

During the past two days, PR Watch received emails alerting us of an unbelievable press release from Dow Chemical. "DOW ADDRESSES BHOPAL OUTRAGE, EXPLAINS POSITION," read the release headline. "Many individuals within Dow feel tremendous sorrow about the Bhopal disaster," the release read. However, Dow has "responsibilities to our shareholders and our industry colleagues that make action on Bhopal impossible." The release directs people to the website "" for Dow's statement on Bhopal.


The Fake Parade

Outside the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in August in Johannesburg, there were poor street vendors and farmers holding signs and wearing t-shirts reading: "Save the Planet from Sustainable Development", "Say No To Eco-Imperialism", "Greens: Stop Hurting the Poor" and "Biotechnology for Africa." The problem, according to environmental reporter and activist Jonathan Matthews is that the anti-environmentalist demonstration was organized by the corporations that environmentalist wanted to be held accountable.


Stock Exchange Mulls Forcing Media to Reveal Conflicts

"After the bubble burst, the [New York Stock Exchange] regulators decided that it was not nice for an analyst to tout a stock without mentioning that he owned the stock or that his employer was the company's investment banker. So they ruled that such conflicts had to be disclosed. Fair enough. But to whom? Many investors learn analysts' opinions not from reading brokerage reports but from news media reports. So the Big Board said that the firms had to make sure that broadcasters who quoted the analysts had to pass on the disclosure.


The Selling of Terrorism Insurance

By stating time and again that terrorism insurance is a jobs bill, the White House "delivered a big plum to the insurance industry," writes Steven Rosenfeld. Now taxpayers are obligated to cover the industry's back by paying up to $300 billion if another terrorism attack occurs -- even though there's no evidence that the legislation will protect a single worker's job. "It has nothing to do with reality," the former top federal insurance regulator said earlier this fall, when discussing his studies examining the issue. "It was hype back then and it's still hype."


"Scientific" Journal's Industry Ties

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has joined a number of other health and science leaders in questioning the integrity of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology (RTP), a "seemingly independent scientific journal" that hides "its authors' and editors' extensive financial ties to tobacco, chemical, pharmaceutical, and other industries. ... [M]any RTP papers are written by scientists from industry labs or by industry-paid lawyers and lobbyists.


That's Not Right Wing Bias, That's 'Fair & Balanced'!

Alessandra Stanley writes in today's New York Times: "The revelation that Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News, the self-proclaimed fair and balanced news channel, secretly gave advice to the White House after the Sept. 11 attacks was less shocking than it was liberating -- a little like the moment in 1985 when an ailing Rock Hudson finally explained that he had AIDS. Ever since Mr. Ailes changed jobs from Republican strategist to news executive, he has demanded to be treated as an unbiased journalist, not a conservative spokesman.



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