"If there was no Afghanistan story," writes Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, "the press would be going nuts over Enron. It's the biggest corporate collapse ever, the firm employed some top administration officials and the CEO was a Dubya pal. Enron has been a big business story, but hasn't drawn the kind of daily-drumbeat political treatment that often surrounds corporate chicanery with a strong whiff of scandal."
"The American economy has officially entered what promises to be the worst recession since the early 1980s and, conceivably, the worst since World War II," writes economist Robert J. Samuelson. "But you'd hardly know from the media, which have treated the economic story as a sideshow. ... Editors have subconsciously delegated their jobs to Wall Street," which refuses to stop hyping over-valued stocks. "Editors would no doubt resent being cast as Wall Street's lackeys. But that is the effect."
Energy trading corporation Enron has hired "two of the nation's most respected strategic communications firms--Kekst & Company and The Brunswick Group" according to the Holmes Report. The firms have been working with Enron to assist with crisis communications as the company begins bankruptcy proceedings. Holmes reports Kekst has handled numerous projects requiring crisis management for Enron over the years, starting with a crisis involving the company's Puerto Rican water operations. This time Kekst was called in when Enron's financial troubles became public.
Corporate decisions to slash the budget of news organizations have created a media environment that invites public relations manipulations. Now Jon Snow, one of Britain's most respected journalists, has launched a furious attack on his own TV network for "reducing its commitment" to news and current affairs. Ten years ago, ITV spent
How will the President of the United States make millions, if not billions, from the war on terrorism? He'll probably inherit it, according to this collection of reports on the Carlyle Group, a secretive $12 billion private equity firm based in Washington that has parlayed a roster of former top-level government officials, largely from the Bush and Reagan administrations, into a moneymaking machine. Its members include prominent world leaders such as George Bush, Sr.
Faced by controversy regarding its links to the bin Laden family and high-ranking government officials, the Carlyle Group has has named Chris Ullman, a former official with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, as its vice president for corporate communications.
Public Campaign, an advocacy group that campaigns for election finance reform, has launched a new website called HowDareThey.org to challenge wartime profiteering by corporate lobbyists. The site features information on topics such as the airline bailout, airline security weaknesses, the high cost of pharmaceutical drugs like Cipro, and the "economic stimulus package" that recently passed the House of Representatives. "We have our hands on our hearts, saluting the flag, mourning the people who are dead, and at the same time these special interests are trying to pick our pockets.
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.