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"True Spin": An Oxymoron or a Lofty Goal?

"Officials from giant corporations meet all the time to share their latest and greatest PR strategies," read the conference website. "Now it's our turn."

spinning topOn February 2 and 3, some 180 people attended the True Spin Conference in Denver, Colorado, which was billed as "a PR conference for progressives." The event was organized by CauseCommunications, a small Denver PR firm whose clients have included Ben Cohen's Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, Winona LaDuke's Honor the Earth, and The Progressive magazine.

Anxious Al Caruba

Alan Caruba
Alan Caruba, from the CDFE website

Alan Caruba is a public relations professional who is so anxious about issues like environmentalism, immigration and the United Nations that he runs the National Anxiety Center. Caruba, who states on his website that his clients include or have included "chemical and pharmaceutical companies, think tanks [and] trade associations," writes a weekly column, called "Warning Signs," which is run by conservative websites.

In last week's column, Caruba, an "adjunct fellow" at Ron Arnold's anti-environmentalist Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise (CDFE), expressed anxiety over our SourceWatch article on his friend Michael Fumento. The title of his column was "Smearing Conservative Writers."

Inside the Tobacco Industry's Files

As the Center for Media and Democracy has noted, the tobacco industry pioneered many deceptive public relations tactics, casting a long shadow over science and health reporting, as well as the public's right to know.

Before its fall from grace, tobacco industry created front groups courted journalists and obscured damning scientific evidence. But, inadvertently, the industry is now helping independent researchers and reporters understand how PR is used to obscure facts and shape public debates.

Correction: DuPont & Invista Hype Nanotechnology-Free Product as "Nano"

In the original version of the blog post, "Environmental Defense or Nanotech Defense", I cited a webpage, which stated that a DuPont created Teflon leather protection product "works on the nano scale", as an example of the company having nanotechnology products on the market.

Subsequently, a reader disputed that Teflon could be a nanotechnology product and described the company's use of the word "nano" as marketing hype. After requesting clarification from DuPont, one of its nanotechnology researchers, David B. Warheit, has confirmed that the Teflon leather protector is not a nanotech product. We have corrected both the original blog and the article in SourceWatch. Invista's promotional page on the DuPont Teflon leather product, however, remains unchanged and potentially deceives consumers of its product into thinking that it is based on nanotechnology. A request to DuPont's PR section for a copy of the June 3, 2003 media release announcing the new Teflon product, which I noted in the original post has gone missing from its news archive, has so far gone unanswered.

Environmental Defense or Nanotech Defense?

If you have concerns about the development of nanotechnology, you might want to keep an eye on the 'partnership' between the chemical industry giant DuPont and Environmental Defense (ED), the New York-based environmental group.

The project, according to a joint media release issued in October 2005 by ED's Fred Krupp and DuPont's Chad Halliday, is to "identify, manage and reduce potential health, safety and environmental risks of nano-scale materials across all lifecycle stages." Once developed, the framework will "then be pilot-tested on specific nano-scale materials or applications of commercial interest to DuPont."

To be fair, ED has flagged concerns about there being inadequate health and environmental assessments of nanotechnologies to date. However, ED hasn't mentioned publicly what they think about DuPont and other companies having products that are already on the market without such assessments.

It Was a Very False Year: The 2005 Falsies Awards

As Father Time faded into history with the end of 2005, he was spinning out of control.

Groucho maskOver the past twelve months, the ideal of accurate, accountable, civic-minded news media faced nearly constant attack. Fake news abounded, from Pentagon-planted stories in Iraqi newspapers to corporate- and government-funded video news releases aired by U.S. newsrooms. Enough payola pundits surfaced to constitute their own basketball team -- Doug Bandow, Peter Ferrara, Maggie Gallagher, Michael McManus and Armstrong Williams. (They could call themselves the "Syndicated Shills.")


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