Corporations

PR Attack Dog Berman Dishes It Out, But Can't Take It

Tobacco PR lobbyist Rick Berman runs a lucrative business smearing public interest groups through his industry-funded fronts such as ConsumerFreedom.com and Activistcash.com. Berman can dish it out, but apparently he can't take it, nor stand the truth. He is threatening to sue food safety activist Jeff Nelson of VegSource for revealing that Berman lines his own pockets from his "non-profit" enterprises. According to Nelson, "Berman claims he wants to 'expose' funding sources of non-profit activist organizations.

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Hot Air on Wall Street

Much of the Internet stock boom was a fiction, "written to script by Wall Street fixers who stood to collect, and did collect, buckets of money by duping the investing public," says Gregg Wirth, a freelance writer who has covered Wall Street for most of the past decade. "Americans were deluged with media sound bites and commercials portraying stock market trading as a virtual free ride on the gravy train.

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Avoiding the Word "Privatization"

The Enron scandal and the declining stock market have left more people worried about the Bush administration's plan to convert Social Security funds into private investment accounts, so Republicans are using focus groups and pollsters to help them finesse the issue. "Key House Republicans now are moving toward declaring themselves against complete privatization -- a deliberate exaggeration of what Bush proposed -- so they can say in campaign ads they oppose the idea and perhaps even sue opponents who accuse them of it," report Mike Allen and Julie Eilperin.

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Penny for Your Biased Thoughts?

Inspired by recent public revelations about pundits who took large consulting fees from Enron, Robert W. Hahn ponders the financial conflicts of interest that pervade the world of Washington think tanks (including his own outfit, the heavily corporate-funded American Enterprise Institute-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies). Hahn's essay, "The False Promise of 'Full Disclosure'," combines some fairly frank admissions with rationalizations about the "impracticality" of full disclosure.

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Monsanto's Web of Deceit

"Anti-GMO (genetically modified organism) scientists and activists are increasingly having their credibility attacked through a campaign orchestrated by the biotech industry," investigative reporter Andy Rowell writes. In two in-depth stories Rowell and Jonathan Matthews, of Norfolk Genetic Information Network, examine the dirty tricks Monsanto has played to promote its gene altered food.

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Defending Capitalism in Argentina

Rissig Licha, the Fleishman-Hillard PR firm's executive director in Argentina, is urging businesses there to "show their hand and defend the capitalist system. Once society begins to question the system, it will be much more difficult," says Licha, whose clients have included Philip Morris and the Clarin Group, a powerful media conglomerate. The problem is that Argentinians are already doing more than "question" the system. "You know what we want to do?

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