Corporations

Enron's Paid Pundits

As Congress debates campaign finance reform, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz wonders if we also need "journalistic finance reform -- that is, what are corporations buying when they lard their payrolls with prominent media folks?" Media pundits took fat contracts on the side from Enron -- ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 for Paul Krugman of the New York Times,

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Bad Mileage Is Good For You

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is lobbying again against federal standards requiring automakers to improve automobile mileage of their cars. They claim that Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards force automakers to build smaller, more dangerous vehicles. As we document in our Impropaganda Review section, CEI has been flogging this argument for years, using questionable evidence. And who are they to talk about safety, anyway?

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From Greenwash to Bluewash

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "greenwash" as "disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image." Now a new term has emerged, "bluewash," which the New York Times describes as "allowing some of the largest and richest corporations to wrap themselves in the United Nations' blue flag without requiring them to do anything new." The highest-profile example of this, writes Kenny Bruno, is the "Global Compact," which asks business to adhere to nine principles derived from key UN agreements and is becoming a general framework for UN

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Dot Con

During the heady late 1990s, Wall Street investment firms and bankers deliberately hyped Internet startup companies with no prospect of financial success, bilking countless small investors out of their money. This PBS documentary explains how it all worked, from the "roadshows" used to line up initial capital to the strategy of launching a new company, watch its stock price spike, and selling before the inevitable downturn (known within the trade as "flipping").

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Accountants Hire PR Help

PR trade publication O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has hired Omnicom's Clark & Weinstock "as the Enron bankruptcy has 'put an unprecedented focus on the accounting profession and its self-regulatory system.'" PR Week reports AICPA has retained the Weiser Group in Chicago "to help in its effort to restore faith in the auditing and accounting system." Meanwhile, according to O'Dwyer's PR Daily, one of Anderson's PR flacks has taken issue with an National Public Radio

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White House Enron Spin

When it comes to the Enron scandal, "White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer has managed the spin duties expertly," writes William Saletan on Slate. By passing the buck, playing dumb, or dodging the issue, Fleischer uses classic spin tactics to evade the Enron-related questions of the White House press corps.

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Enron's Untold Story

Fortune reporter Bethany McLean was virtually the only journalist in America who dared write about Enron's financial problems prior to November 2001. Now that its collapse has become the nation's hottest story, teams of business journalists are digging into the largest corporate meltdown in American history. But as in the savings and loan debacle a dozen years ago, it took news organizations too long to piece together the clues. "It's fair to say the press did not do a great job in covering Enron," admits Steve Shepard, editor-in-chief of Business Week magazine.

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Driving in Circles

The Bush administration has announced that an eight-year-old, $2 billion federal program to create high-mileage gas vehicles was being scrapped and a new program -- focusing on hydrogen fuel-cells -- was being created. According to Jack Doyle, author of Taken for A Ride: Detroit's Big Three and the Politics of Pollution, this new fuel-efficiency initiative is more PR than progress.

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Oil PR/Lobby Campaign Seeks to Un-Demonize Libya

The Wall Street Journal reports that, " Libya's Col. Moammar Gadhafi, is attempting a rehabilitation. Top U.S. and Libyan officials have held several unpublicized meetings in England and Switzerland in recent years to discuss improving ties. Public-relations campaigns and lobbying efforts on Libya's behalf are under way, funded in part by oil money and driven by a desire to cash in on future deals or resume business interrupted by sanctions. ... The four American oil companies that were forced by U.S. sanctions to suspend operations in Libya ... are eager to return to Libya.

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