[Marxism] Spiked online update

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Nov 7 07:47:23 MST 2005

>And I still object to the last sentence in your reply. I don't often 
>bother to look at spiked-online - but I do think it is wrong to treat them 
>as enemies.  I feel sure they regard themselves as "radicals" - from our 
>point of view often misguided - but I think their output should be 
>criticised on particular details, not by total condemnation or 
>name-calling.  Similar things could sometimes be said about media.lens, 
>and I sometimes find things to criticise on counterpunch also, but I would 
>not  use words of general condemnation on any of these journalists who are 
>certainly outside the "mainstream".   None of them are really speaking to 
>marxists - but all are, in their way, trying to open eyes among the 
>general public.
>Comradely greetings,

Paddy, 10 years ago it might have made sense to regard Furedi's posse as 
part of the left, but not now. Radicals do not co-sponsor conferences with 
Hill and Knowlton. Just a reminder of what this notorious PR firm was 
responsible for:


Hill & Knowlton, then the world's largest PR firm, served as mastermind for 
the Kuwaiti campaign. Its activities alone would have constituted the 
largest foreign-funded campaign ever aimed at manipulating American public 
opinion. By law, the Foreign Agents Registration Act should have exposed 
this propaganda campaign to the American people, but the Justice Department 
chose not to enforce it. Nine days after Saddam's army marched into Kuwait, 
the Emir's government agreed to fund a contract under which Hill & Knowlton 
would represent "Citizens for a Free Kuwait," a classic PR front group 
designed to hide the real role of the Kuwaiti government and its collusion 
with the Bush administration. Over the next six months, the Kuwaiti 
government channeled $11.9 million dollars to Citizens for a Free Kuwait, 
whose only other funding totalled $17,861 from 78 individuals. Virtually 
all of CFK's budget - $10.8 million - went to Hill & Knowlton in the form 
of fees.74

The man running Hill & Knowlton's Washington office was Craig Fuller, one 
of Bush's closest friends and inside political advisors. The news media 
never bothered to examine Fuller's role until after the war had ended, but 
if America's editors had read the PR trade press, they might have noticed 
this announcement, published in O'Dwyer's PR Services before the fighting 
began: "Craig L. Fuller, chief of staff to Bush when he was vice-president, 
has been on the Kuwaiti account at Hill & Knowlton since the first day. He 
and [Bob] Dilenschneider at one point made a trip to Saudi Arabia, 
observing the production of some 20 videotapes, among other chores. The 
Wirthlin Group, research arm of H&K, was the pollster for the Reagan 
Administration. . . . Wirthlin has reported receiving $1.1 million in fees 
for research assignments for the Kuwaitis. Robert K. Gray, Chairman of 
H&K/USA based in Washington, DC had leading roles in both Reagan campaigns. 
He has been involved in foreign nation accounts for many years. . . . Lauri 
J. Fitz-Pegado, account supervisor on the Kuwait account, is a former 
Foreign Service Officer at the US Information Agency who joined Gray when 
he set up his firm in 1982."75

In addition to Republican notables like Gray and Fuller, Hill & Knowlton 
maintained a well-connected stable of in-house Democrats who helped develop 
the bipartisan support needed to support the war. Lauri Fitz-Pegado, who 
headed the Kuwait campaign, had previously worked with super-lobbyist Ron 
Brown representing Haiti's Duvalier dictatorship. Hill & Knowlton senior 
vice-president Thomas Ross had been Pentagon spokesman during the Carter 
Administration. To manage the news media, H&K relied on vice-chairman Frank 
Mankiewicz, whose background included service as press secretary and 
advisor to Robert F. Kennedy and George McGovern, followed by a stint as 
president of National Public Radio. Under his direction, Hill & Knowlton 
arranged hundreds of meetings, briefings, calls and mailings directed 
toward the editors of daily newspapers and other media outlets.

Jack O'Dwyer had reported on the PR business for more than twenty years, 
but he was awed by the rapid and expansive work of H&K on behalf of 
Citizens for a Free Kuwait: "Hill & Knowlton . . . has assumed a role in 
world affairs unprecedented for a PR firm. H&K has employed a stunning 
variety of opinion-forming devices and techniques to help keep US opinion 
on the side of the Kuwaitis. . . . The techniques range from full-scale 
press conferences showing torture and other abuses by the Iraqis to the 
distribution of tens of thousands of 'Free Kuwait' T-shirts and bumper 
stickers at college campuses across the US."76

Documents filed with the US Department of Justice showed that 119 H&K 
executives in 12 offices across the US were overseeing the Kuwait account. 
"The firm's activities, as listed in its report to the Justice Department, 
included arranging media interviews for visiting Kuwaitis, setting up 
observances such as National Free Kuwait Day, National Prayer Day (for 
Kuwait), and National Student Information Day, organizing public rallies, 
releasing hostage letters to the media, distributing news releases and 
information kits, contacting politicians at all levels, and producing a 
nightly radio show in Arabic from Saudi Arabia," wrote Arthur Rowse in the 
Progressive after the war. Citizens for a Free Kuwait also capitalized on 
the publication of a quickie 154-page book about Iraqi atrocities titled 
The Rape of Kuwait, copies of which were stuffed into media kits and then 
featured on TV talk shows and the Wall Street Journal. The Kuwaiti embassy 
also bought 200,000 copies of the book for distribution to American troops.77

Hill & Knowlton produced dozens of video news releases at a cost of well 
over half a million dollars, but it was money well spent, resulting in tens 
of millions of dollars worth of "free" air time. The VNRs were shown by 
eager TV news directors around the world who rarely (if ever) identified 
Kuwait's PR firm as the source of the footage and stories. TV stations and 
networks simply fed the carefully-crafted propaganda to unwitting viewers, 
who assumed they were watching "real" journalism. After the war Arthur 
Rowse asked Hill & Knowlton to show him some of the VNRs, but the PR 
company refused. Obviously the phony TV news reports had served their 
purpose, and it would do H&K no good to help a reporter reveal the extent 
of the deception. In Unreliable Sources, authors Martin Lee and Norman 
Solomon noted that "when a research team from the communications department 
of the University of Massachusetts surveyed public opinion and correlated 
it with knowledge of basic facts about US policy in the region, they drew 
some sobering conclusions: The more television people watched, the fewer 
facts they knew; and the less people knew in terms of basic facts, the more 
likely they were to back the Bush administration."78

Throughout the campaign, the Wirthlin Group conducted daily opinion polls 
to help Hill & Knowlton take the emotional pulse of key constituencies so 
it could identify the themes and slogans that would be most effective in 
promoting support for US military action. After the war ended, the Canadian 
Broadcasting Corporation produced an Emmy award-winning TV documentary on 
the PR campaign titled "To Sell a War." The show featured an interview with 
Wirthlin executive Dee Alsop in which Alsop bragged of his work and 
demonstrated how audience surveys were even used to physically adapt the 
clothing and hairstyle of the Kuwait ambassador so he would seem more 
likeable to TV audiences. Wirthlin's job, Alsop explained, was "to identify 
the messages that really resonate emotionally with the American people." 
The theme that struck the deepest emotional chord, they discovered, was 
"the fact that Saddam Hussein was a madman who had committed atrocities 
even against his own people, and had tremendous power to do further damage, 
and he needed to be stopped."79
Suffer the Little Children

Every big media event needs what journalists and flacks alike refer to as 
"the hook." An ideal hook becomes the central element of a story that makes 
it newsworthy, evokes a strong emotional response, and sticks in the 
memory. In the case of the Gulf War, the "hook" was invented by Hill & 
Knowlton. In style, substance and mode of delivery, it bore an uncanny 
resemblance to England's World War I hearings that accused German soldiers 
of killing babies.

On October 10, 1990, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus held a hearing 
on Capitol Hill which provided the first opportunity for formal 
presentations of Iraqi human rights violations. Outwardly, the hearing 
resembled an official congressional proceeding, but appearances were 
deceiving. In reality, the Human Rights Caucus, chaired by California 
Democrat Tom Lantos and Illinois Republican John Porter, was simply an 
association of politicians. Lantos and Porter were also co-chairs of the 
Congressional Human Rights Foundation, a legally separate entity that 
occupied free office space valued at $3,000 a year in Hill & Knowlton's 
Washington, DC office. Notwithstanding its congressional trappings, the 
Congressional Human Rights Caucus served as another Hill & Knowlton front 
group, which - like all front groups - used a noble-sounding name to 
disguise its true purpose.80

Only a few astute observers noticed the hypocrisy in Hill & Knowlton's use 
of the term "human rights." One of those observers was John MacArthur, 
author of The Second Front, which remains the best book written about the 
manipulation of the news media during the Gulf War. In the fall of 1990, 
MacArthur reported, Hill & Knowlton's Washington switchboard was 
simultaneously fielding calls for the Human Rights Foundation and for 
"government representatives of Indonesia, another H&K client. Like H&K 
client Turkey, Indonesia is a practitioner of naked aggression, having 
seized . . . the former Portuguese colony of East Timor in 1975. Since the 
annexation of East Timor, the Indonesian government has killed, by 
conservative estimate, about 100,000 inhabitants of the region."81

MacArthur also noticed another telling detail about the October 1990 
hearings: "The Human Rights Caucus is not a committee of congress, and 
therefore it is unencumbered by the legal accouterments that would make a 
witness hesitate before he or she lied. ... Lying under oath in front of a 
congressional committee is a crime; lying from under the cover of anonymity 
to a caucus is merely public relations."82

In fact, the most emotionally moving testimony on October 10 came from a 
15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, known only by her first name of Nayirah. 
According to the Caucus, Nayirah's full name was being kept confidential to 
prevent Iraqi reprisals against her family in occupied Kuwait. Sobbing, she 
described what she had seen with her own eyes in a hospital in Kuwait City. 
Her written testimony was passed out in a media kit prepared by Citizens 
for a Free Kuwait. "I volunteered at the al-Addan hospital," Nayirah said. 
"While I was there, I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with 
guns, and go into the room where . . . babies were in incubators. They took 
the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies 
on the cold floor to die."83

Three months passed between Nayirah's testimony and the start of the war. 
During those months, the story of babies torn from their incubators was 
repeated over and over again. President Bush told the story. It was recited 
as fact in Congressional testimony, on TV and radio talk shows, and at the 
UN Security Council. "Of all the accusations made against the dictator," 
MacArthur observed, "none had more impact on American public opinion than 
the one about Iraqi soldiers removing 312 babies from their incubators and 
leaving them to die on the cold hospital floors of Kuwait City."84

At the Human Rights Caucus, however, Hill & Knowlton and Congressman Lantos 
had failed to reveal that Nayirah was a member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family. 
Her father, in fact, was Saud Nasir al-Sabah, Kuwait's Ambassador to the 
US, who sat listening in the hearing room during her testimony. The Caucus 
also failed to reveal that H&K vice-president Lauri Fitz-Pegado had coached 
Nayirah in what even the Kuwaitis' own investigators later confirmed was 
false testimony. 

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