Veteran journalist Bill Moyers exposed decades of corruption of science and politics by companies, trade associations and PR firms defending the chemical industry in his March 26 documentary, Trade Secrets. In the week leading up to the actual broadcast, the chemical industry launched its own attack on Moyers, claiming that his documentary was unfair and biased.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has posted on the Internet a database of more than 1,100 professors and scientists who consult for or have other affiliations with chemical, gas, oil, food, drug, and other companies. The web site also provides partial information about nonprofit and professional organizations that receive industry funding. The well-documented database is part of CSPI's Integrity in Science project and is designed for activists, journalists, policy makers, and others who are concerned about potential conflicts of interest.
Archer Daniels Midland Company, seeking a more wholesome image, replaced its longtime slogan "Supermarket to the World" with the touchingly eco-friendly tag "The Nature of What's to Come." ADM has reason to be concerned about its public profile; the feds have convicted the agri-business giant of multiple counts of price-fixing, multiple states have taken it to court for pollution-related issues, and political reformers say ADM has reaped massive government pork from heavy soft money donations.
Amway representatives spread rumors that Procter and Gamble's "man-in-the-moon" logo is a Satanic symbol. That's according to a new P&G lawsuit against the Michigan-based household goods distributor. This is just the latest tiff between the two giant corporations; as far back as the 1980's, Amway distributors were publicizing a link between the Devil and their corporate rival, leading Procter and Gamble to drop the logo.
President Bush announced that he will nominate Linda J. Fisher, a former executive of the Monsanto Company, as well as an official with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the Reagan Administration, to be Deputy EPA Administrator. Fisher most recently served as Vice President of Government Affairs for Monsanto, an agricultural biotechnology firm. Fisher served as Chief of Staff for EPA Administrator Lee M. Thomas from 1985 to 1988.
The oil and gas industry has launched the Energy Stewardship Alliance, aimed at winning access to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. ESA claims to be a non-profit coalition of "professional organizations" and "individuals" who believe opening the Refuge to oil drilling is worth the human and environmental risk.
Powerful corporations routinely throw their weight around in the local and national media--and get away with it. Before running a piece about Micron Technologies, the Idaho Statesman sent a review copy to...Micron Technologies. The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal got a scoop on a big airline merger, under the condition that they not talk to any critics of the deal. In their Fear and Favor 2000 report, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting document these and many more examples of the media caving in to corporate spin.
Feeling brainwashed? The world's most famous spy, John le CarrT (aka David Cornwell) thinks you should be. "We have become the creatures of these people," he said in a recent interview. "Advertising as news. It's prevalent in every aspect of the press. It's very skilfully done. The amount of energy and money and ingenuity applied to corporate spin and corporate lying has never been greater or more effective than it is now."
This news release by Edelman PR explains the rationale for trying to encourage business "partnerships" with activist groups: "You've got an environmental disaster on your hands. Have you consulted with Greenpeace in developing your crisis response plan? Co-opting your would-be attackers may seem counterintuitive, but it makes sense when you consider that NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are trusted by the public nearly two-to-one to 'do what's right' compared with government bodies, media organizations and corporations."