Joshua Micah Marshall, a former Washington Editor of the American Prospect, has some good insider dirt on Washington politics. His "Talking Points" website examines "astroturf" organizing, "op-ed payola" and other schemes used to manipulate the media and elected officials.
Last week, Spin of the Day mentioned a report on Australia's SBS television, which used clandestinely filmed footage provided by the Canadian PR firm of Dickens and Madson that claimed to show Zimbabwe's opposition presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, plotting in December to assassinate incumbent president Robert Mugabe. However, the Mass Media Project of Zimbabwe, an independent watchdog organization, has reviewed the footage and says that it appears to have been doctored.
The PBS NewsHour aired a report tonight titled "Public Diplomacy: U.S. Outreach to the Muslim World." 'Public diplomacy' is a euphemism for government propaganda, and this report is an overview of US efforts already reported elsewhere, with no new insights or perspectives.
PR trade publication O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports there is yet another firm representing Saudi Arabia. In addition to Burson-Marstellar, Qorvis Communications, and Patton Boggs, the Kingdom is using The Gallagher Group in its public affairs and lobbying campaign. The firm was hired by Qorvis, the Saudi's media relations firm, to do "government relations" work. O'Dwyer's reports the firm's president James Gallagher expects the $20,000 contract, which covered work between November 15 and February 15, to be renewed.
"Most people would be thrilled to be a real-life character in a movie. Not Frank Carlucci. Lawyers for the former U.S. Secretary of Defense have pressured the film's distributor to remove his character's identity from the showings of 'Lumumba' on HBO this month," Pacific News Service contributor Lucy Komisar writes. "Carlucci doesn't appreciate the attention. Maybe that's understandable. In 1960, he was the second secretary in the U.S. embassy in Kinshasa, the Congo. That was the time when, according to declassified U.S.
In a lengthy report on Zimbabwe's upcoming elections, Australia's SBS TV uses hidden surveillance videos to document an apparent plan by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to murder the country's sitting president, Robert Mugabe. According to the footage, money to pay for the killing was channeled through BSMG London, an affiliate of the Weber-Shandwick PR firm.
"The Citizens for Liberty in Cuba is using Washington, D.C.-based Griesinger Assocs. to 'promote policies to aid in bringing democracy' to the island," reports O'Dwyer's PR Online.
Saudi Arabia is paying $100,000 to Patton Boggs, an affiliate of Qorvis Communications, to lobby on its behalf in the U.S. Congress. According to Kevin McCauley, editor of O'Dwyer's PR Daily, the Saudis have been getting "PR fit for a King (or at least a Prince)" lately, notwithstanding their complaints that they are victims of a "savage media campaign" in the West.
Today's New York Times reports that Russia has "strongly criticized Bush administration plans to store rather than destroy decommissioned nuclear warheads, suggesting that such plans would undermine the credibility of any new arms control accord.... ... An assistant secretary of defense, J. D. Crouch, told a Pentagon briefing that the United States would hold in reserve a substantial number of warheads as a 'responsive capability.' ...