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PEOPLE. ARE UPSET BECAUSE. WE’VE BEEN DUMPING TbXIC SLUDGE INTh NE WATER SUPPLY! WELLBY THE. n Pets WE’RE THROUGH, /welt. ram% you FOR IT/ .,. As WELL AS SENDING out SLICKLY-PRODUCED “VIDEO NEWS RELEASES” WHICH MANY CASH-STRAPPED LOCAL NEWS DEPARTMENTS AIR VIRTUALLY UNED/TED… GIVING CoRPo RATE PROPAGANDA THE APPEARANCE or 0 305C-riVE REPORTING… 50 YOU SEE, ToxIC. SLUDGE IS ACTUALLY QUITE GOOD FoR YoU! STEP THREE: PUBLIC OPINION IS SWAYED BY THIS ONSLAUGHT OF MEDIA MANIPULATION MAS-QUERADING AS NEWS…SINCE, AS P.R. FIRMS WELL UNDERSTAND, ANY LIE REPEATED OF-TEN ENOUGH BECOMES TRUE… CANT IMAGINE WHY wE EVER WORRIED A80U1 TOXIC SLUDGE! from “This Modern World” by Tom Tomorrow BOOKS & THE CULTURE It’s Not Sludge, It’s Mr. Biosolids! BY BEN TERRALL TOXIC SLUDGE IS GOOD FOR YOU! Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry. By John C. Stauber and Sheldon Rampton. Common Courage Press. ired of hordes of PR flacks who, in the words of Noam Chomsky, “[try] to turn people into ideal, manipu latable atoms of consump tion who are going to de vote their energies to buying things they don’t want”? Sick of phony investigative reporting that reeks of Chamber of Commerce puffery? Think that obsequiousness in the face of corporate power has become a dis ease of contemporary culture? If your an swer is a resounding “Hell, yes!” then Toxic Sludge Is Good For You! is required reading. John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton are co-editors of PR Watch, the quarterly from which much of this book was compiled. They trace today’s public relations industry back to campaigns designed to incite jingoistic hatred of Germans during World War I. The emergence of this pseudo-science was pioneered by self-satisfied hucksters like Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays \(Sigmund Freud’s lation of the masses is natural and necessary in a democratic society.” Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter disagreed, and in a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt derided Bernays and Lee as “professional poisoners of the public mind, exploiters of foolishness, fanaticism and self-interest.” The Bernays and Lee legacythe corporate PR industry outlined in this bookvindicates Frankfurter. From the Global Climate Coalition \(which fights efforts to prevent Beautiful \(bankrolled by manufacturers staunchly opposed to a national bottle-reton show how big business front groups represent the sort of grave threat to democracy once associated with the Red Menaceand predictably, a number of industry spokesper IT’s TIME FoR YET ANOTHER LooK AT NOW THE NEWS WoRgs…sTEp ONE: A CORPoRATIor4 WHICH HAS BED CAUGHT ENGAGING IN SOME ILLEGAL oft UNETHICAL ACT HIRES A PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM… sons cited in the book excel at the demagoguery that made the 1950s such a wonderful decade. The National Smokers Alliance, a pro-tobacco group created by PR giant Burson-Marsteller, satisfied their sugar daddies at Philip Morris when they called advocates of smoke-free workplaces “antiAmerican.” Chemical-industry-funded antienvironmentalist Elizabeth Whelan claimed that David Steinman, the author of Diet For a Poisoned Planet, and others like him, “may pose a future threat to national security.” Steinman’s book cites government inspectors who found that “raisins had 110 industrial chemical and pesticide residues in 16 samples” and recommended avoiding all but organically-grown raisinsclearly a frontal assault on the Pentagon. But this seemingly comical, pseudoCold War dishonesty takes on truly sinister overtones when employed by what Stauber and Rampton call “the torturers’ lobby”: gung-ho cheerleaders for repressive STEP IWO: THE P.R. FIRM PROLEEb5 To MANI -PULATE PUBLIC oPINto/4 IN A VARIETY OF DEVIouS,uNDERHANDED WAYS SucH AS ANONYMOUSLY PLANTING OP-ED PIECES IN THE NAllotr5 NEWSPAPERS… regimes. Smear campaigns don’t get much uglier than the one waged against Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. After the Cedras regime ousted the democraticallyelected president, it hired a number of Washington PR shills to paint Aristide as a “psychotic manic-depressive with homicidal and necrophiliac tendencies.” The investment paid off when Jesse Helms obligingly burbled on the Senate floor that Aristide was a “psychopath.” Of course, not all apologists for brutal dictatorships are quite so negative. Many, in fact, choose to accentuate the positive, as did Mobil Oil in last summer’s salute to “Independent Indonesia.” For over thirty years, Indonesia has been ruled by Suharto, a dictator who came to power in a coup that killed a million people. Among his accomplishments is the invasion and on-going genocidal occupation of East Timor, which has resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 of the island nation’s people. Efforts to organize labor AUGUST 30, 1996 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 27