While formulating its national energy policy, the Bush administration's Energy Department met with 109 representatives of the energy industry and its trade associations from late January to May 17, 2001, but gave environmental groups less than 48 hours to review and comment on the policies.
The full extent of Wall Street's corruption doesn't stop at Enron and Arthur Andersen. Extraordinary revelations about Merrill Lynch surfaced this week when Eliot Spitzer, the New York state attorney general, publicized e-mail messages that circulated among Merrill's stock analysts, suggesting that the analysts privately doubted the stocks they publicly recommended to clients.
The American Society of Newspaper Editors reports, "Nearly 2,000 journalists left the newspaper industry last year, the largest loss in 25 years, while the percent of minority journalists working at daily newspapers rose nearly a half of one percentage point to 12.07 percent." In their annual census of newsrooms, ASNE found that most of the losses were reporters at medium-size newspapers. "In 2001, many publishers and editors offered buyouts to senior staffers and laid off other employees as the industry struggled to cope with the recession and a decline in advertising," ASNE writes.
Arctic Power, a lobbying organization that promotes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, has ended its $4-million account with Qorvis Communication reports PR trade publication O'Dwyer's PR Daily. Arctic Power says there is a conflict of interest since Qorvis also is working for Saudi Arabia. One of Arctic Power's key arguments for opening ANWR to oil drilling is that it would reduce US dependence on foreign oil, particularly Middle-Eastern oil. The US is Saudi Arabia's second top export market.
Leonard Downie Jr., and Robert Kaiser, two top editors at the Washington Post, have written a new book detailing the corrupting influence of corporate ownership on mainstream news. Titled The News About the News: American Journalism in Peril, their book details how the push for profits during the past quarter century has substituted entertainment for analysis, undermined investigative journalism (too expensive), given us ever-more stories about actors, sports figures, and celebrities, and blurred the lines between news and advertising.
Recent months have seen ferocious criticisms of Enron, but Columbia Journalism Review contributor Scott Sherman thinks journalists should have asked tough questions much earlier. During the 1990s, he notes, business coverage "crackled with enthusiasm about Enron," with Fortune comparing the now-failed energy company to a "gate-crashing Elvis" in the "staid world of regulated utilities and energy companies ...
PBS has applied its "conflict of interest" guidelines to refuse programming that receives sponsorship from unions, lesbians or battered women, on grounds that these groups have a "vested interest in the subject matter of the program." When it comes to corporations, however, the network follows a different standard. Currently the network is premiering a six-hour series about the global economy which was sponsored by major corporations that have a clear interest in the show's content.
For years, the Clearinghouse for Environmental Education, Advocacy and Research (CLEAR) did yeoman's work researching the financial ties and extremist rhetoric of the corporate-funded anti-environmental movement. Until recently a project of the Environmental Working Group, CLEAR recently spun off to become independent.
A flashy publicity stunt outside a Houston federal courthouse accompanied accounting firm Arthur Andersen's not guilty plea to Justice Department obstruction charges. "As Andersen pleaded not guilty inside the courtroom, outside the firm launched a public relations blitz designed to portray government prosecutors as overzealous and heartless to the plight of its 28,000 U.S. employees," USA Today's Greg Farrell reports.
Fortune magazine recently spent six weeks investigating the Carlyle Group, the secretive investment firm with ties to the Bush administration that invests heavily in military contracting. Carlyle employs a raft of former government officials, including the Bush the senior as well as former Secretary of State Jim Baker, former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci and former British Prime Minister John Major.