Anne Landman's News Articles

Healthwashing Soda

As state and local governments consider taxing soda and sugary drinks to raise money and address the national obesity epidemic, manufacturers of sugary drinks -- like countless other industries -- are taking PR cues from the tobacco industry to defeat the initiatives. The PR tactics they are using are starting to be old hat. By now, everyone should be able to spot them, but just in case you're not up to speed on your corporate PR literacy, here's what to look for:

Step One: Position your product as the solution, not the problem

Coca Cola, Pepsico and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group are running print and TV ads promoting their joint initiative to remove full-calorie, artificially-sweetened drinks from schools. At the same time, Americans Against Food Taxes, the front group for the sugary drink manufacturers, is sending out emails boasting that soda companies have replaced full-calorie soft drinks with "smaller-portion" and "portion-controlled" beverages, real juice and bottled water in schools. Voila'! Their products are no longer the problem, they are part of the solution. Even better, now they'll get kids to buy more bottled water -- which costs them next to nothing to make -- at a dollar a bottle. Score!

Philip Morris Pushing Smoking Hard in Foreign Countries

In the 1950s, more than half the U.S. population smoked. Now that number is down to just 21 percent of adults. As the domestic cigarette market shrinks, tobacco companies are taking their business to the developing world, where they don't have to deal with pesky things like advocacy groups that oppose industry activity, smoking bans, or a populace that is aware of the health hazards of smoking.

Now Philip Morris (PM) is playing hardball in lesser-developed countries to try and preserve their ability to market cigarettes however they want. On February 19, PM filed a lawsuit against Uruguay to try and force that country to withdraw a new law requiring 80 percent of each side of cigarette packs show graphic images depicting the health effects of smoking.

Conservatives, Republicans Keep Up Incorrect Use of the "Nuclear Option"

Republicans and conservative news media outlets like Fox News keep repeating the error made by newly-elected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, when he mistakenly called the Senate process of reconciliation "the nuclear option." The term the "nuclear option" was coined in 2005 by then-Majority Leader Trent Lott, when Democrats used the filibuster to block the appointment of appeals court judges nominated by George W. Bush. This prompted Republicans to threaten to change the Senate rules so they could cut off debate on judicial nominees using a simple 51-vote majority instead of the required 60-vote majority needed to end a filibuster. The momentousness of this change -- effectively blocking the stalling technique known as the filibuster -- moved some Democrats to dub the Republicans' threat the "nuclear option." Thus, the phrase "nuclear option" refers to a major change in the rules of the Senate, not passing a bill using reconciliation. Passing a bill -- even a large and important bill -- through reconciliation is fairly standard procedure, and has been used many times before to approve major health care reform initiatives.

It's getting clearer that conservatives would rather sling around a scary, loaded old term and hope to elicit some emotional effect than come up with a new term -- or use the right words -- to communicate what they mean.

CMD's Wendell Potter to Appear on Bill Moyers' Journal

The Center for Media and Democracy's own Wendell Potter, former head Corporate Communications for CIGNA, and now the Center for Media and Democracy's Senior Fellow on Health Care, is going to New York Cit

Cheney's Huge Blunder

In April, 2009, former vice president Dick Cheney called for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to release classified memos he said demonstrated how well "harsh interrogation methods" -- torture -- worked to prevent terrorist attacks and save lives. But investigators with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) just released a report saying that the CIA memo Cheney cited as justifying U.S. torture contains "plainly inaccurate information" that undermines its conclusions.

Rick Berman Attacks the Humane Society

Front group man extraordinaire Rick Berman and his attack group, the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), have launched a new Web site,, to harass the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the country's largest animal welfare organization. In pursuing its mission of stopping animal cruelty, HSUS has apparently run afoul of some large, wealthy business interests, and now it is getting some major pushback.

The Humane Society works to stop egregious, ongoing animal abuse, particularly in money-making enterprises like puppy mills, factory farming, dogfighting, cockfighting, and unsporting hunting practices like "canned hunts," where hunters pay to shoot at captive, domestically-raised, exotic animals. While this is a laudable goal, it pits HSUS against a significant number of wealthy, powerful businesses that engage in animal cruelty practices, like meat and egg producers, factory farmers, canned hunting businesses, contract research labs that do animal testing for big corporations and pharmaceutical companies that exploit animals to manufacture drugs like Premarin, which is used to treat the symptoms of menopause. Premarin is made from pregnant mares' urine and is marketed by Wyeth Pharmacueticals, one of the world's largest drug companies.

The Right Wing Media's Lie Machine

In a video posted on YouTube on February 3, House Representative Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) explains how the right wing media machine creates and spreads disinformation in an effort to smear the left. "Disinformation" should not be confused with "misinformation," the unintentional form of wrong information. Disinformation is produced by people who intend to mislead their audience.

Step 1: Fabricate the Lie

Frank tells how John Fund, an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal, told a lie about him in November of last year: In a speech at a conservative function in Florida called "Restoration Weekend," Fund claimed that, after losing the special election in Massachusetts, Democrats Chuck Schumer and Barney Frank were going to propose a bill to create universal voter registration. Fund further stated that Democrats were going to add all welfare recipients and unemployed people to the voter rolls, and he called it "felon re-enfranchisement."

In reality, Frank explains, there was no such bill.

Outlook Rosy for Nuclear Industry, Despite Unsolved Problems of Waste and Safety

The Obama administration is considering granting as much as $18.5 billion in loan guarantees to the nuclear industry to build new reactors, and Congress is considering adding billions more to expand nuclear power in the U.S., even though the problems of safety and what to do with nuclear waste remain unsolved.

The positive outlook for the industry comes after an intense decade of lobbying, in which the nuclear industry and its allies, in aggregate, have spent over $600 million on lobbying and almost $63 million on campaign contributions, according to the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University.

PR First, Country Second: A McCain Campaign Retrospective

On her January 12 show, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC reviewed a portion of the new book about the 2008 Presidential election, Game Change, by political reporters John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. The section was about Sarah Palin. The authors discuss Palin's prep and tutoring for the campaign trail, and conclude that "her grasp of rudimentary facts and concepts was minimal." They allege Palin didn't know why North and South Korea were separate nations, didn't know what the Fed does, and couldn't explain who her son, Track, was going to fight in Iraq. Maddow played a video clip of Palin, taped during her appearance on the Bill O'Reilly show shortly before Maddow's show that same night, in which Palin admitted that she didn't know who perpetrated the 9-11 terror attacks against the U.S. In another clip, Palin was giving a speech to American troops as they prepared to ship off to Iraq. In her speech, Palin suggested Saddam Hussein was behind 9-11, even though her campaign prep team had carefully explained to her the day before her speech that Iraq was not involved in planning or perpetrating 9-11.

Wash Post Called Out for Outsourcing "News" to the Fiscal Times

A conspicuously biased news article printed in the Washington Post on December 31, 2009 is raising the eyebrows of public policy experts, bloggers, media watchdogs other news outlets alike. Sign our petition to tell the Post no more fake news!

Titled "Support grows for tackling nation's debt," the article discusses a proposal to create a government commission to examine America's growing debt. The new commission, according to the article, would be charged with exploring "how to rein in skyrocketing spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security," but the article failed to mention other significant sources of government spending, like the $663 billion military budget.

The story points to growing support for such a commission among political figures, but fails to mention the 40 or so prominent organizations that oppose the plan, including the NAACP, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), AARP, Common Cause, the AFL-CIO, and the National Organization for Women (NOW). The article was not written by Post reporters, but was produced by a startup "news" organization called the Fiscal Times, whose byline describes it is an "independent news publication that reports on fiscal, budgetary, healthcare and international economic issues." But is it truly "independent"?

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