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.
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.
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.
Nike is "extremely disappointed" in a California supreme court ruling which says the company can be sued for fraud for claiming that its overseas workers received adequate wages and that its working conditions complied with safety regulations - assertions
"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.
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?
Hill & Knowlton, the PR firm that "managed communications" at Three Mile Island and worked for the government of Kuwait to spin the war in the Persian Gulf, has now been hired "to salvage Enron Corp.," according to O'Dwyer's. Howard Paster, the White House lobbyist for former President Clinton, is working on the account with a variety of other H&K staffers with ties to both Republican and Democratic politicians.
It's official: Philip Morris, the world's largest tobacco company, has now changed its name to "Altria," from the Latin root for "altruism." The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids isn't impressed.
The Child Health Corporation of America, which "says its mission is to find the best medical supplies for some of the nation's biggest children's hospitals," is "endorsing certain products in return for a percentage of sales and, in some cases, shares or warrants from their manufacturers." Nevertheless, "Manufacturers that receive the seal hold it up as a major independent endorsement."