"Do reporters know that so much medical news is actually unpaid advertising?" writes Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Policy Research for Women & Families. "The most effective industry influence is so well-hidden that many reporters and producers are totally unaware of it. The role of pharmaceutical companies and other health care industry interests in shaping news coverage of medical products and treatment is as invisible as it is pervasive."
"After the bubble burst, the [New York Stock Exchange] regulators decided that it was not nice for an analyst to tout a stock without mentioning that he owned the stock or that his employer was the company's investment banker. So they ruled that such conflicts had to be disclosed. Fair enough. But to whom? Many investors learn analysts' opinions not from reading brokerage reports but from news media reports. So the Big Board said that the firms had to make sure that broadcasters who quoted the analysts had to pass on the disclosure.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has joined a number of other health and science leaders in questioning the integrity of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology (RTP), a "seemingly independent scientific journal" that hides "its authors' and editors' extensive financial ties to tobacco, chemical, pharmaceutical, and other industries. ... [M]any RTP papers are written by scientists from industry labs or by industry-paid lawyers and lobbyists.
Alessandra Stanley writes in today's New York Times: "The revelation that Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News, the self-proclaimed fair and balanced news channel, secretly gave advice to the White House after the Sept. 11 attacks was less shocking than it was liberating -- a little like the moment in 1985 when an ailing Rock Hudson finally explained that he had AIDS. Ever since Mr. Ailes changed jobs from Republican strategist to news executive, he has demanded to be treated as an unbiased journalist, not a conservative spokesman.
"Embarrassing public disclosures about Citigroup threaten to complicate final negotiations aimed at cleaning up tainted Wall Street research and stock-offering practices," reports Thor Valdmanis.
Getting caught in a scandal isn't necessarily bad for a public official's career these days. "Many in business - as well as old Washington hands - who have had their names tarnished and reputations sullied have discovered that there is life in the private sector after public disgrace, and a potentially profitable one at that," reports Leslie Wayne. "Many corporations are willing to overlook an ethical lapse or a subpar performance and put those with Washington expertise on their boards, to use them as lobbyists or to make them partners in business deals." For example:
"Gordon Andrew, who has held top communications posts at Prudential and Travelers Group, is handling the press for former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow, who was indicted on 78 counts of fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice," reports O'Dwyer's.
Guthrie/Mayes PR is helping the Archdiocese of Louisville handle its sex abuse crisis. Eight of the Archdiocese's 182 priests have been "permanently removed" from their ministries. Other clients of Guthrie/Mayes include Philip Morris, Toyota, Eli Lilly and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.
A series of influential studies purporting to show that federal regulation is broadly irrational are based on data that is highly misleading and frequently manufactured to fit a preconceived point of view, according to an investigation by Richard Parker, a law professor at the University of Connecticut.
On October 9, Microsoft posted a testimonial on its Web site called "Confessions of a Mac to PC Convert." It was a first-person account by a "freelance writer" about how she had fallen in love with Windows XP. "I was up and running in less than one day, Girl Scout's honor," said the attractive, woman in the photo. "There was only one problem: She doesn't exist," writes David Pogue. "A with-it member of Slashdot.org, the popular hangout for articulate nerds, happened to notice that the woman's picture actually came from GettyImages.com, a stock-photo agency.