The stranglehold that a dozen giant corporations now exert on media in the US will tighten even more in the wake of a federal court ruling. The ill effects of corporate media control such as mind numbing content, self-censorship to serve advertisers, neglect of minority opinions and dissent, sensationalized if-it-bleeds-it-leads news, plagiarism of PR as 'news,' are all set to worsen. Schiesel and Carter write in the New York Times, "Investment bankers, start your engines.
"As the Enron scandal progresses, opportunistic politicians are trying their best to turn the company's name into political shorthand to discredit just about anything," writes Bryan Keefer. Terms like "Enronomics" and "Enronization" have entered the vocabulary as shorthand ways of discrediting political opponents. "In political parlance, 'Enron' has now become a verb and an adjective," Keefer writes.
"Just before the last presidential election, Bush campaign adviser Ralph Reed offered to help Enron Corp. deregulate the electricity industry by working his 'good friends' in Washington and by mobilizing religious leaders and pro-family groups for the cause. For a $380,000 fee, the conservative political strategist proposed a broad lobbying strategy that included using major campaign contributors, conservative talk shows and nonprofits to press Congress for favorable legislation.
"Sherron Watkins, Enron's VP of corporate development, who in August predicted accounting scandals would destroy the company, told the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Feb. 14 that she offered a PR campaign to former chairman Kenneth Lay," O'Dwyer's PR Daily writes. "In her Oct. 30 memo to Lay, the former accountant said she outlined for him ways to handle the PR crisis and urged him to lay the blame on the company's then CEO Jeffrey Skilling and CFO Andrew Fastow. 'I was providing this to Mr.
Last week, PR industry pundit Fraser Seitel opined that former Enron CEO Ken Lay made a PR blunder by refusing to testify before Congress. "You should answer every question squarely and straightforwardly. Duck nothing," he advised. This week he thinks that Lay's partner in crime, Jeff Skilling, also blundered by the way he did testify.
"While the Bush administration was drafting its national energy policy, a leading lobbyist for Enron Corp. was plotting strategy to turn the plan into a political weapon against Democrats, according to a newly obtained memo," the Los Angeles Times writes. Washington-based lobbyist Edward Gillespie of Quinn Gillespie & Associates in a confidential April 2001 memo to energy companies and industry groups offered advise on how to paint a dour pictures of the Democrats and their energy policy.
"They called it 'the matrix,' " writes Washington Post reporter Joe Stevens, "a computer program that brought a scientific dimension to Enron's effort to seduce politicians and sway bureaucrats. With each proposed change in federal regulations, lobbyists punched details into a computer, allowing Enron economists in Houston to calculate just how much a rule change would cost.
Robert Cribb, the president of the Canadian Association of Journalists, is calling for "a parliamentary inquiry into the effects of media concentration in this country," in response to efforts by the CanWest media empire to muzzle journalists who disagree with management views. "At issue is CanWest's decision to run 'national editorials' in its major dailies, limiting the diversity of viewpoints available to readers," Cribb writes.
Nick Nichols, CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Nichols-Dezenhall Communications Management Group, Ltd., has a book out titled Rules for Corporate Warriors: How to Fight and Survive Attack Group Shakedowns, which purports to offer advice for the once-proud corporations hunted into near-extinction by the overwhelming power of left-wing activists and their allies in the anti-corporate media.
M.A. Shute, a former staffer from the Hill and Knowlton PR firm, orchestrated the tearful media interview of Linda Lay, wife of embattled former Enron CEO Ken Lay. The Lays are trying to portray themselves as victims rather than villains in the company's financial collapse. According to PR pro Jeremy Garlington, however, putting the wife in front of cameras is a "flawed media strategy." It was a mistake, he says, to claim that the Lays are "on the verge of financial ruin ...