Ethics

Lying Us Into War

"President George W. Bush and his foreign-policy team have systematically and knowingly deceived the American people in order to gain support for an unprovoked attack on Iraq," writes writer and college communications instructor Dennis Hans, who tallies 15 "techniques of deceit" that Bush has used "to deceive the very people most inclined to trust him."

No

His Own Best Student

For three years, John R. Lott Jr., the controversial American Enterprise Institute scholar and author of "More Guns, Less Crime," has used the pseudonym of "Mary Rosh" to post defenses of himself on the Internet. "Rosh" described Lott as a meticulous, non-ideological researcher, and even claimed to be one of his former students. "I have to say that he was the best professor I ever had," Rosh gushed in one Internet posting.

No

Trust Us, We're Corporations

Integrity and good behavior based on "principles" are more important than rules of corporate governance, according to Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the chief executive of Swiss-based foods giant Nestle (which recently demonstrated its commitment to "principles" by attempting to sue the famine-stricken nation of Ethiopia).

No

Some Folks Might Say That's an Insult

Howard Kurtz reports that the New York Times has spiked a "My Job" column by Jeff Barge, a Manhattan public relations executive who described planting stories in major newspapers and blasted the PR industry as "a deceptive business" in which newspapers are fed "quotes that are just plain fabricated by the PR people." According to Times editor Judith Dobrzynski, Barge's piece was "too self-promotional." (The mention of Barge appears in the bottom half of Kurtz's column, under the subhead, "Unfit to Print.")

No

Astroturf Ethics

After a recent article in the British Medical Journal detailed drug company sponsorship of medical meetings on "female sexual dysfunction," a PR firm with clients in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry has launched a global campaign to "counter" the BMJ report. Michelle Lerner of the HCC De Facto PR firm said it would "violate ethical guidelines" to disclose the identity of her client.

No

Spin Doctors Prescribe the Wrong Medicine

"It's no easy job to save market share for expensive antihypertensive drugs when headlines read 'When Cheaper Is Also Better,'" writes Jeanne Lenzer. A major new study shows that the expensive drugs used to treat hypertension "were no better than a diuretic.

No

Push Polling for Nuclear Power

Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee (ENVY), which owns a nuclear power plant near Brattleboro, VT, has been conducting an opinion poll using leading questions designed to influence public opinion, not measure it. "They were trying to sneak in some propaganda disguised as an objective poll," said one local resident after being called. "They claimed they didn't know who was paying for the poll." ENVY has been fighting to keep the plant open as town meetings convene to discuss its fate.

No

The CIA and the New York Times

"What would Americans think if they knew that their best newspaper, The New York Times, had allowed one of its national-security reporters to negotiate a book deal that needed the approval of the CIA?" writes Allan Wolper. "What would they say if they knew the CIA was editing the book while the country is days or weeks away from a war with Iraq and is counting on the Times to monitor the intelligence agency?"

No

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