"A dozen years after the Gulf War, public perceptions of it are now very helpful to the White House," media critic Norman Solomon writes in his Media Beat column. "That's part of a timeworn pattern.
The congressional Joint Inquiry into September 11 is recommending revising government information policies not only to promote information sharing among government agencies, but also to expand public access to government information, because ""an alert and committed American public" could be "the most potent weapon" in the war against terrorism.
O'Dwyer's reports that top PR and lobby firms for the Saudis are dodging subpoenas from the Congressional Committee on Government Reform. Says the O'Dwyer website (now only accessible by subscription, but well worth the fee), "Michael Petruzzello, head of Qorvis Communicatins and Jack Deschauer of Patton Boggs, were not found at their offices or homes by U.S. Marshals, according to The New York Sun. A lawyer for Jamie Gallagher of the Gallagher Group stalled Congressional staffers until too late in the day for agents to serve a subpoena, reports The New York Post.
Bob Woodward's reporting on the Watergate story made him a journalistic legend, but his reliance on secret sources troubles Richard Blow. "Among journalists who care about nagging details like accuracy, there will also be the inevitable handwringing over Woodward's dubious reporting methods, the fact that he writes from a fly-on-the-wall perspective yet never identifies his sources," Blow writes.
"If and when a press corps of 3000 to 5000 lands with the U.S. military in Iraq, should they be prohibited from broadcasting the war live, using their videophones and satellite dishes? Yes, under some circumstances, says Nightline anchor Ted Koppel."
War correspondent Leon Daniel was puzzled by the lack of corpses at the tip of the Neutral Zone between Saudi Arabia and Iraq on Feb. 25, 1991. Clearly there had been plenty of killing on the previous day, which marked the beginning of the ground war in Operation Desert Storm. But there were no visible signs of carnage because the army had already plowed dirt over all of the bodies. "What happened at the Neutral Zone that day has become a metaphor for the conduct of modern warfare," writes Patrick Sloyan.
"Nothing more starkly illustrates the federal government's post-Sept. 11 desire to learn more about its citizens and to divulge less about itself than the new homeland security legislation," write James Kuhnhenn and Drew Brown. "Approved by the Senate last week and destined for President Bush's signature, the bill would make it easier for government agencies to gather information about individuals and groups, including their e-mail, the phone calls they place, and the Web sites they view.
In our book, Toxic Sludge Is Good For You, we reported on the U.S. government's disastrous PR campaign to build public support in Nevada for a high-level nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain. Now two workers at the Yucca Mountain Project to dispose of high-level nuclear waste say they were fired or transferred after raising concerns about the project's safety.
PR Watch has posted previous reports on the biotech food industry's use of the Internet to fake independent criticism of anti-GM groups. Now George Monbiot, who has also reported on deceptive biotech practices, takes a look at recent efforts to use hunger in Africa as a marketing hook for genetically modified foods.