Journalists were watchdogs who didn't bark until after the stock market bubble burst, Jim Michaels told about 70 journalists Tuesday at a conference sponsored by Strong Funds in Menomonee Falls, Wis. "We've just come off the worst investment bubble in history that cost investors something like $3 trillion," said Michaels, who served as editor of Forbes magazine for 38 years and is still a vice president there. "The whole thing was a Ponzi scheme, yet during much of it, business journalists were cheerleaders for it.
The U.S. Congress has passed a Republican-drafted stimulus bill, ostensibly designed to speed the recovery from the damage done to an already wobbly economy by the terrorist attacks and the more recent anthrax scare. However, the bill consists mostly of a $70 billion tax cut to corporations, while offering only token support for the unemployed. At latest count, 7 million Americans are without work, the highest number in 4 1/2 years.
Within 48 hours of the attacks on the World Trade Center, airport security companies formed their own trade organization, the Aviation Security Association, retained a former transportation department official to lobby for them, and hired international PR giant Burson-Marsteller. According to the Holmes Report, in the past month, B-M has designed a website for the association, written position papers that were distributed to Capitol Hill, sponsored meetings with congressional staffers, and set up editorial board meetings.
In the wake of the government's multi-billion-dollar bailout of the airline industry, Public Citizen has compiled a report showing how airlines used aggressive lobbying and campaign contributions to turn the Federal Aviation Administration into its accomplice as it fought for years to stall, scale back and ignore specific security recommendations made by a 1996 presidential commission.
"US lawmakers are finally moving the return of the three-martini lunch ... to the front of the national agenda," PR Week reports with considerable satisfaction. "Unsure whether the best way to help their country is to offer pro bono work or to send hefty checks to relief agencies, flacks may put themselves to good use by revisiting their glory days, and by being the first to the trough," it states.
Professor Jerold M. Starr looks at corporate control of the U.S. media and calls for a new independent public broadcasting system: "Today a mere six corporations control more than half of all communications enterprises: books, magazines, newspapers, music, motion pictures, radio and television. Some 77 percent of the nation's daily newspapers are part of chains. Two firms control more than half the market for 11,000 magazines. Four firms control our broadcast TV networks and almost all the cable networks.
The Associated Press in Miami reports that "a dozen Burger King marketing department employees suffered first and second degree burns on their feet when they walked barefoot over a strip of glowing, white-hot coals as part of a corporate bonding experience." At least one was hospitalized. But pain didn't stop a burned Burger King marketer from putting the best spin on the cultish training she helped organize. "'It was a great experience for everyone,' said Dana Frydman, vice president of product marketing... Although Frydman was one of those injured, she said she has no regret.
Investigative reporting used to be the sexiest part of the news business, and the most respected. Danny Schechter laments its decline, and tells the story of how ABC News spiked an investigative report on GE's dumping of PCBs in the Hudson River.
In the last 20 years, corporate funding in the fields of information technology and biotechnology has grown faster than support from any other source, and there is growing concern over possible corporate interference and industrial pressures that could inappropriately influence the direction, interpretation, and outcome of research. This past summer, several organizations took measures to examine and address this situation.
Corporate interests and their proxies are looking to exploit the September 11 tragedy to advance a self-serving agenda that has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with corporate profits and dangerous ideologies. Fast track and the Free Trade Area of the Americas. A corporate tax cut. Oil drilling in Alaska. Star Wars. These are some of the preposterous "solutions" and responses to the terror attack offered by corporate mouthpieces.