Anne Landman's News Articles

A recent Spin of the Day item on PRWatch says that Bank of America bought up hundreds of derogatory Internet domain names related to their business, like and (referring to BofA's CEO). Purchasing derogatory domain names is a quiet but common corporate strategy to try to minimize or contain bad PR.

Hell Freezes Over: Philip Morris Settles a Wrongful Death Suit

Philip Morris (PM) broke from its longstanding policy of never settling a personal injury case recently after it quietly paid $5 million to settle a wrongful death suit brought against its subsidiary, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco (USST), maker of Copenhagen and Skoal brands of spit tobacco. PM's parent company, Altria Group, acquired USST in 2009.

Kelly June Hill sued USST on behalf of her son, Bobby Hill, who died of oral cancer in 2003 at age 42. Bobby got addicted to spit tobacco as a child, long before health warning labels were put on the product in 1987. In the course of the case, USST dumped a half million pages of documents on the plaintiffs lawyers, which, by Hill's attorneys' own account, made searching for helpful material quite interesting.

Shame on Richard Edelman

On November 22, Richard Edelman, President and CEO of Edelman, "the leading independent global PR firm," posted a blog criticizing Wendell Potter for his tell-all book, Deadly Spin, about deceptive corporate public relations techniques that are hurting this country so badly and costing Americans their health, and in some cases even their lives.

Edelman portrayed his firm as being on the side of truth. He took exception to Potter's portrayal of big PR firms as engaging in public deception.

I was completely amazed at Edelman's characterization of his firm as ethical, and his castigation of Wendell Potter. Perhaps Mr. Edelman is unaware of his own firm's appalling history, or perhaps he's just choosing to ignore it.

Do Airport Screenings Really Make Us Safer?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been taking a beating lately over its new, full-body X-Ray imaging scanners that show people naked. People are concerned about both the humiliation of the procedure and the extra doses of X-rays they get from these scanners, but travelers who refuse to be scanned must submit to a TSA "enhanced pat-down," which now involves a newer, more aggressive policy: frisking with the front of the hand instead of the back of the hand, and feeling people's crotches and women's bras. These more invasive practices are leading the public from skepticism to rage and outright resistance to the new procedures, and for good reason, since TSA's track record of facilitating crime against travelers arguably far outstrips the amount of crime the agency has prevented.

Despite 2006 "Pledge," Fast Food Companies Target Kids More Than Ever

In response to growing pressure about promoting unhealthy food to kids and contributing to the obesity epidemic, the fast food industry did what every industry that produces a harmful product does: it pledged to voluntarily end the harmful practices that started drawing scrutiny to the industry. Accordingly, in 2006 the Council of Better Business Bureaus launched its Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), a voluntary code of conduct under which fast food purveyors pledged to promote healthier food choices in their advertising, and to use messages encouraging good nutrition in ads aimed at kids.

As with other voluntary corporate codes, the CFBAI has proven more effective at staving off regulation of the fast food industry than protecting kids from predatory advertising and marketing practices. Since signing onto the Initiative, the fast food industry has found many ways to evade its purported intent and promote their unhealthy foods to kids more than ever.

A Win in Spin for the Corporate-Backed Tea Party

In the weeks before the 2010 mid-term elections, the Tea Party and its activities dominated the media, but there was a decided lack of discussion about exactly what the Tea Party is. Major media seemed sold on the idea that the Tea Party is one big homogenous, spontaneous grassroots uprising, but this was not the case. Apart from a single, exhaustive article in the August 30, 2010 edition of The New Yorker (aptly titled "Covert Operations,") that linked the wealthy billionaire Koch Brothers' and their corporate interests to the Tea Party, few media outlets discussed which factions of the movement were truly grassroots, which were corporate-backed, and to what extent corporations supported the "movement."

Here at PRWatch, we strove to tease out the difference between various Tea Party factions, like the GOP-backed Tea Party Express, the grassroots Tea Party Patriots and the for-profit corporation called Tea Party Nation. We found out which factions were getting the big money, who their PR operatives were, what types of PR tricks they were engaging in, and more.

"Deadly Spin" Coming November 9

The Center for Media and Democracy's Senior Fellow on Health Care, Wendell Potter, has a new tell-all book coming out November 9, Deadly Spin: An insurance company insider speaks out on how corporate PR is killing health care and deceiving Americans. The book details disinformation campaigns that health insurers use to cover up their misdeeds and manipulate public policy, reveals insurers' public relations tricks, like commissioning bogus scientific studies, working through fake "grassroots" organizations, and disseminating rhetoric designed to scare the public. (Think phrases like "socialism" and "death panels," that Wendell reveals were created by health insurance companies.) Wendell tells about the methods insurers use to "dump the sick," discusses the skyrocketing premiums and high deductibles that are putting health care out of reach for working people, and discloses the outrageous salaries that insurance companies executives make while denying care to patients. As the former head of Corporate Communications for CIGNA, Wendell is uniquely to qualified bring this important information to the public. The book, published by Bloomsbury, can be ordered at

The Ubiquitous "Too Much Big Government" Theme

We hear it everywhere this election season. Candidates, ads and TV pundits say we have "too much big government!" Virtually any attempt to regulate or tax any industry is a government intrusion into our lives. Candidates say they want less government. What's up with this ubiquitous, anti-government theme?

The "Government intrusion" argument is a powerful propaganda theme that has been around for a long time, and one that big businesses often use to manipulate public opinion. As with so many other corporate-derived propaganda tools, the anti-government theme originated largely with the tobacco industry, which has relied on it for decades to get its way in public policy.

How "Breast Cancer Awareness" Campaigns Hurt

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Pink ribbons abound at department stores, grocery stores, gas stations, shopping malls and many other places. But the big "awareness" push may be misplaced. After all, lung cancer kills twice as many women each year as breast cancer -- more women every year in the U.S. die from lung cancer than from breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers combined. In 2009 alone, 31,000 more women died of lung cancer than breast cancer. But there aren't any ribbons, theme-colored products, corporate promotions, colored car magnets, festivals or fundraisers to make people aware of lung cancer's devastating toll, or to support lung cancer victims or raise money for a cure.

Why not?

Wendell Potter on The Ed Show

CMD's Senior Fellow on Health Care, Wendell Potter, appeared on the Ed Show (MSNBC) to talk about the "charm offensive" insurance companies have put on by saying that they will allow parents to keep their kids covered up to age 26, while in truth they are declaring war on children in the U.S. A new provision of the health care reform legislation becomes active on September 23 which would make it illegal to drop insurance coverage for children with pre-existing conditions. In advance of the provision coming into effect, though, insurance companies in at least four states are refusing to write policies on children altogether. Wendell says the insurance industry is "dominated by a cartel of big insurance companies that are more beholden to Wall Street than to the children of the United States." The bottom line, Wendell says, is that we cannot trust these companies. "Do not believe anything they are saying ... We have a very evil system. These companies really cannot do the right thing." Here's the link to the video of Wendell on MSNBC.

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