Local TV Tales: Pro-Sweatshop Fake News and Paid Smokespeople

After federal authorities accused Francesco Insolia "of running a sweatshop to fulfill $220 million in military contracts and employing 361 illegal immigrants," he closed his New Bedford, MA, factory to reporters. In an affidavit filed in conjunction with an immigration raid on the factory, U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan's office said "workers were docked $20 for taking more than two minutes in the bathroom, and for being more than 15 minutes late." But television news can still show the factory, thanks to a Boston PR firm that released "a three-minute video" on behalf of Insolia, showing "seamstresses diligently stitching camouflage backpacks ... and taking umbrage at what is being said and written about the company," reports Aaron Nicodemus. According to O'Dwyer's, the video was shot by the Rendon Group's Boston office and "was aired on Boston TV stations WGBH and Fox-25." Meanwhile, the Kansas City Pitch reports that KSHB-41 sportscaster Jack Harry praised the "laser acupuncture" company New Beginnings for helping him quit smoking, in a station news segment. "What Harry didn't mention is that he's also a paid spokesman for the company," adds the Pitch. New Beginnings' president "says it's common to find radio and TV personalities to plug a product during the course of a show." KSHB's news director admits "that the piece should've included a disclaimer. She said the initial script has one, but it was cut at the last minute because of time."