PR Exec: Fake TV News is Good for You!

In a contributed column titled "Are Video News Releases All Bad?," Kevin E. Foley, the president of the Atlanta-based PR company KEF Media Associates, criticized the Center for Media and Democracy's (CMD) recent report on the widespread and undisclosed use of video news releases (VNRs). Foley acknowledges that television stations often use VNRs as a cheap source of "news" filler but defends their use without disclosing who sponsored them. He argued, "CMD would have us believe that some great social harm is being done if a VNR isn’t attributed, but if the newscaster airs a story that holds the viewer's attention and the viewer walks away informed or entertained, who has been hurt?" The report documented an instance where Ohio-based WYTV-33 broadcast an 80-second news feature on MimyX, a prescription skin cream for eczema, where safety information included in the VNR was entirely edited out of the "story."


Kevin Foley

Foley also noted in the op-ed that a first stage cervical cancer patient who sees a story on her local news that's based on a VNR and learns of a new treatment option for the disease has clearly benefited.

Mimyx is a prescription medicine, so patients receiving the treatment would also get all of the safety and contraindication information they need from their doctors and/or pharamcists. Again, someone suffering from painful eczema who is not familiar with treatment options may well have benefited by seeing the WYTV-33 story.

I couldn't agree more- what's wrong with a little canned spam. Tastes good, and we all love it.

But I think when we're talking these fake news stories, it's an even bigger scandal, and here's why. Most Americans get most of their news, unfortunately, from television. We know that TV is the worst source to receive news. For instance, back in the first Gulf War, the Hill & Nolten P.R. firm produced 20, at least, video news releases promoting the war. No one has gotten a hold of those to examine them. A reporter from The Progressive investigated this afterwards, and the P.R. firm refused to turn them over. We also know from the University of Amherst study back then, and there have been other studies that have corroborated this with other situations since, that the American public, who watched the most TV coverage of that Gulf War, thought they knew the most, actually knew less than most people who were getting their news through newspapers, for instance, and yet were the strongest supporters of the war. So, the bottom line here is that if you are watching war on television, with all of the propaganda and video news releases that go along with it, you are actually being misinformed, and yet you're more likely to support the war. Television is the number one source of so-called news for most Americans, and a huge proportion of that is fake news.

KEF Media happen to recieve some of the recent govt money for some PR work, by chance? Just curious.

Repackaged promos for various junk, be it makeup, drugs, or whatever, is just child's play. Evidence that the so called news outlets are more interested in money than journalistic integrity, and that they couldn't care less about their viewers. The fact that any of the VNRs would even pass as news, edited and repackaged or not, says volumes about what's considered news, doesn't it?

But then we get into the propaganda pieces put out by govt... pretty disgusting. Even more so when so called news outlets go along with the lies. And to think it's been going on for years... who needs a state run station when all the major outlets are doing your bidding? Liberal news media, conservative news media... what a joke.

BTW, I hold to the "Synthetically Produced Artificial Meat" definition for the acronym, at the least, in it's application to mainstream news. There's nothing real about it.

Other than producing VNRs on the Cesar Chavez and Adoption Awareness stamps for the US Postal Service, no, KEF Media hasn't received any "govt money". The previous comment touches on the point I made in my C&B op-ed. TV news is no longer straight forward journalism and hasn't been for some time. It's infotainment. Sorry, that's just "the way it is", in the words of Walter Cronkite.

Kevin, you are so proud of your biased, slanted "news" stories paid for by your corporate and government clients who are featured in them, why not share them with the world? I hereby challenge you to make them all public by posting them online for all to see as they are produced and distributed, as we did with the VNRs we captured. Then, since you monitor for your clients exactly where this fake news aired, you shuold also post online information about which stations aired them, when and where. This is the age of the internet Kevin, and this sort of transparency would be wonderful! All the great information in your VNRs would reach an even wider audience. Let me know if you need any technical help in doing this. However, I know that you won't take up this challenge because you would be doing just what we've done, exposing how much of TV news is really just the disguised and plagiarized airings of PR videos.

Thanks for your thoughts, John. A couple of things, though.

First, I am very proud of what I do for my clients as a paid advocate and have never tried to hide my identity or misrepresent our services to the news media. I have never produced a VNR that contained anything but the truth.

Second, we don't have any government clients. We once did some VNRs on stamps that raise public awareness of adoption, Cesar Chavez and diabetes for the postal service.

Third, it's interesting you bring up the Internet. In about a month we will be launching a site that offers all our content to all media, broadcast, print or web anywhere in the world 24/7/365. You can even log in and download if you'd like. Thanks for the offer, but we can handle the technical here. BTW, I didn't know you could read minds! You know "I won't take up the challenge"???

John, since we're on the topic of "fake news", maybe you can explain how almost 10 years ago, with no formal medical or scientific training, you could convince the major news media you're a mad cow "expert" and predict in subsequent interviews a mad cow epidemic that never happened? That sounds a lot more like fake news to me.

Kevin, we will be watching your site closely, please provide all necessary information for accessing it. Regarding my prescient book with Sheldon Rampton, Mad Cow USA, you seem a bit confused, probably because you are getting your information from lobbyist Rick Berman's website. In Mad Cow USA Sheldon and I correctly predicted that indeed mad cow disease would occur, as it has, in the US because all the safeguards necessary to prevent it were not, and still have no,t been taken. The USDA now admits we have probably been spreading mad cow disease here for a decade through the feeding of cows to cows. Yet today it is legal and widespread to wean calves on cattle blood here in the US. Despite confirming mad cow cases in Washington, Texas and Alabama, the US government is cutting back on mad cow testing. The US needs to do what the EU countries and Japan have done, ban all feeding of slaughterhouse waste to livestock, and test milllions of animals. Your nearest library can provide a copy of our book for free, and if you just click on the book title in the right column of our home page you can read all about it, including the praise it received from various scientific and medical reviews. But, of course, lobbyists for the beef industry like Rick Berman have their own spin, and you Kevin have succumbed to it, probably because you have such a demonstrated problem separating "news" from corporate PR.

Because it's posted on activistcash doesn't mean it's a lie. But since I saw the following there as well, perhaps you can tell me if it's true (see, I give you the benefit of the doubt. Why won't you return me the courtesy?). If it is true, John, then it strikes me as a little hypocritical to condemn PR tactics employed by others to promote and sell things like medicine, soda, burgers or....books:

Rampton and Stauber’s latest book (Trust Us, We’re Experts! ) was delivered to the media with a slick press kit, citing favorable reviews from media experts. The packet also included a prewritten list of questions for reporters to ask when interviewing the authors. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel blew the whistle, though, noting that “a somewhat sheepish Stauber” offered the following feeble excuse: “What you see is a true PR campaign around our book. This is how book publishing is done. I think it’s bad. I hate it.”

Check out the KGO TV piece above about [[Rick Berman]], the lobbyist who runs [[ActivistCash]] and whom PR exec Kevin Foley finds so credible. KGO TV is the ABC affiliate in San Francisco, CA. This is a great example of a TV station actually engaged in journalism, exposing [[ActivistCash]] and [[Rick Berman]] as industry shills and fronts. KGO could have saved itself thousands and thousands of dollars and avoided offending powerful interests such as the corporations that fund [[ActivistCash]] and [[Berman and Co.]] by NOT doing this story, and instead running one of the corporate-funded fake news stories that Kevin Foley provides stations for free. Hats off to KGO for real journalism in this case.

Kevin Foley

Still waiting for John to confirm/deny activistcash post about using the very same PR tactics he condemns others for using to promote and sell his book.

FYI- KGO frequently runs VNR content.

Our books our currently published by Penguin, and indeed they use marketing techniques to advertise and publicize the books. All profits and proceeds from the sale of our books go to the non-profit Center for Media and Democracy where Sheldon Rampton and I work.