Blog Posts

Deconstructing McCain: A Must-Read for All Voting Republicans

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Filed under: Propaganda and Disinformation, Spin

Make-Believe Maverick
by Tim Dickinson
Rollingstone, Issue 1063
Oct 16, 2008

A closer look at the life and career of John McCain reveals a disturbing record of recklessness and dishonesty

[Also watch this video by Tim Dickinson: Five Myths About John McCain]

At Fort McNair, an army base located along the Potomac River in the nation’s capital, a chance reunion takes place one day between two former POWs. It’s the spring of 1974, and Navy commander John Sidney McCain III has returned home from the experience in Hanoi that, according to legend, transformed him from a callow and reckless youth into a serious man of patriotism and purpose. Walking along the grounds at Fort McNair, McCain runs into John Dramesi, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who was also imprisoned and tortured in Vietnam.

McCain is studying at the National War College, a prestigious graduate program he had to pull strings with the Secretary of the Navy to get into. Dramesi is enrolled, on his own merit, at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in the building next door.

There’s a distance between the two men that belies their shared experience in North Vietnam — call it an honor gap. Like many American POWs, McCain broke down under torture and offered a “confession” to his North Vietnamese captors. Dramesi, in contrast, attempted two daring escapes. For the second he was brutalized for a month with daily torture sessions that nearly killed him. His partner in the escape, Lt. Col. Ed Atterberry, didn’t survive the mistreatment. But Dramesi never said a disloyal word, and for his heroism was awarded two Air Force Crosses, one of the service’s highest distinctions. McCain would later hail him as “one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met.”

Read the rest of the article at Rollingstone.com or (more…)

Counter Spin: Unions Tackle Obama Race Issue Head On

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From Truthout.org:

Part 1:
Top AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka takes on the underlying racism that has been used to drive otherwise natural Democratic voters away from Senator Barack Obama.

Part 2:
Frank Talk of Obama and Race in Virginia
by Peter Wallsten
The Los Angeles Times
October 5, 2008

As Obama supporters push to win the dead-even battleground state, they are talking directly about race, betting that the best way to put neighbors at ease is to open up.

Whitewood, Virginia – The isolated towns of Virginia’s Appalachian coal region are home to strong labor unions and Democratic political machines that date back generations. Yet voters here who eagerly pushed Democrats into the Senate and the governor’s office are resisting Barack Obama.

Some Americans say Obama’s race and uncommon background make them uncomfortable – here those people include Democratic precinct chairmen and get-out-the-vote workers. Many Americans receive e-mails falsely calling Obama a Muslim – here a local newspaper columnist has joked in print that Obama would have the White House painted black and would put Islamic symbols on the U.S. flag. (more…)

Lee Atwater: Godfather of the Modern Negative Political Campaign.

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Screening September 26 through November 2, 2008 in independent cinemas and film festivals around the country. Check here for more info.

The Washington Times #1 Can’t Miss Pick!

Produced and Directed by Stefan Forbes
Produced by Noland Walker

Featuring Ed Rollins, Michael Dukakis, Tucker Eskew, Howard Fineman, Mary Matalin, Sam Donaldson and others

“Can you understand American politics if you don’t understand
Lee Atwater? I believe not.” – Tucker Eskew, Senior McCain/Palin Advisor

Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story is a comprehensive look at Lee Atwater, the blues-playing rogue whose rambunctious rise from the South to Chairman of the GOP made him a household name. He mentored Karl Rove and George W. Bush and played a crucial role in the elections of Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He wrote the Republican Party’s winning playbook which the McCain campaign is currently using. (more…)

Campaign Spin: Push Polls Disguised as Market Research

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Filed under: Media Literacy, Propaganda and Disinformation, Spin

Reach Out and Smear Someone
Politico.com via PRWatch.org
September 16, 2008

The Republican Jewish Coalition says it hired the political polling firm Central Research to “understand why Barack Obama continues to have a problem among Jewish voters.” But the poll questions upset many of the hundreds of Jewish voters in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey who received the calls.

Some say it was a push poll, designed to spread negative information and disinformation. Others say the calls, with more than 80 questions, were too long to be push polls; instead, they may be testing messages for future attack ads. One question the pollsters asked is whether it would affect the respondent’s vote if she or he knew that Hamas’ leader had “expressed support for Obama.” The Republican Jewish Coalition, which has endorsed John McCain for President, also helped launch the pro-war lobby group Freedom’s Watch. In the 2000 primary campaign, the Bush team targeted McCain with a push poll in South Carolina that claimed McCain had fathered an illegitimate black baby.

Read the whole article here at Politico.com.

photo: DataMikado.ning.com

The Weekly Spin on the Center for Consumer Freedom

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Rick Berman Gets Fat off the Obesity Industry
The Weekly Spin / prwatch.com
September 23, 2008

Kevin Anderson, blog editor for the UK Guardian, was bemused by an advertisement posted in the Washington DC subway. “This ad of a man’s beer belly stuffed with bills railing away against trial lawyers probably makes little sense to the average American.

Figuring out who is behind ads like this is even more interesting. The ad highlights an innocuous sounding website www.ConsumerFreedom.com (because who would be against consumer freedom?). What is this group? SourceWatch gives the history and current campaigns of the Center for Consumer Freedom. They originally started to fight against smoking restrictions in restaurants backed with money from tobacco giant Philip Morris. They have since expanded into other areas including anti-anti-obesity.

Hard-hitting news funny man Stephen Colbert gets to the bottom of the story in this interview of Rick Berman, the PR man behind the Center for Consumer Freedom.”

Keith Olbermann on the Anniversary of 9/11

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Special Commentary from Countdown with Keith Olbermann about the politicization of 9/11 by the Republican Party, MSNBC, September 10, 2008:

Fact Checking McCain

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FactChecking McCain
FactCheck.org, Annenberg Political Fact Check
September 5, 2008

He made some flubs in accepting the nomination.

Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) arrives to accept the nomination Minnesota September 4, 2008. REUTERS/Shannon StapletonSummary: We checked the accuracy of McCain’s speech accepting the Republican nomination and noted the following:

McCain claimed that Obama’s health care plan would “force small businesses to cut jobs” and would put “a bureaucrat … between you and your doctor.” In fact, the plan exempts small businesses, and those who have insurance now could keep the coverage they have.

McCain attacked Obama for voting for “corporate welfare” for oil companies. In fact, the bill Obama voted for raised taxes on oil companies by $300 million over 11 years while providing $5.8 billion in subsidies for renewable energy, energy efficiency and alternative fuels.

McCain said oil imports send “$700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us very much.” But the U.S. is on track to import a total of only $536 billion worth of oil at current prices, and close to a third of that comes from Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

He promised to increase use of “wind, tide [and] solar” energy, though his actual energy plan contains no new money for renewable energy. He has said elsewhere that renewable sources won’t produce as much as people think. (more…)

Double Standards, Spin and Rancor at the RNC

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From The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, September 3, 2008:

thanks Don

In Search of the Indelible Metaphor

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I’m Rubber, You’re Glue …
by Jonathan Alter
September 1, 2008

It’s hard to predict what will stick. ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ was a hand-scrawled sign hung in Little Rock.

When NEWSWEEK reported earlier this summer that the McCain family owns at least seven houses, few outside the hothouse of politics noticed. Voters assume that all politicians are rich and didn’t seem to care that John McCain’s wife, Cindy, is worth $100 million and owed back taxes on one of the properties. But when Politico asked McCain last week in New Mexico how many residences he and his wife owned and he answered, “I think—I’ll have my staff get [back] to you,” the story suddenly took off, fueled by the impression that McCain is old and out of touch with Americans struggling to pay their mortgages. Will it do his campaign real damage? Depends on the “stickiness.”

The same goes for Barack Obama’s acceptance speech in Denver. The buzz of 70,000 people screaming for him at Invesco Field will wear off if he doesn’t frame his economic message in a way that otherwise inattentive Americans can recall. Without an indelible metaphor, all of his policy speeches are written in invisible ink.

Modern campaigns are about flinging 10 things against the wall every day and hoping something sticks. Everything else, from fund-raising to advertising (paid for by the fund-raising) to speechmaking to Web strategy, is in the service of applying that adhesive, either to cement the candidate’s message or muck up the opponent’s engine with sludge.

That’s because memorable lines, images, gaffes and monikers act like a piece of gum on the bottom of your shoe. (more…)

The Real McCain 2

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From Robert Greenfield and Brave New Films:

There’s no question John McCain is getting a free ride from the mainstream press. But with the power of YouTube and the blogosphere, we can provide an accurate portrayal of the so-called Maverick. We can put the brakes on his free ride!

John McCain’s YouTube Problem Just Became a Nightmare

Since we first released The Real McCain a year ago, our REAL McCain series has garnered over 6 million views, with over 50,000 comments and tens of thousands more in petition signatures! Clearly, John McCain’s record is something the public wants to discuss, and yet the corporate media is doing NOTHING to present the truth. (more…)

Media Hype: The Power of Hot Air

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Need Press? Repeat: ‘Green,’ ‘Sex,’ ‘Cancer,’ ‘Secret,’ ‘Fat’
by Joanne Kaufman
The New York Times
June 30, 2008

toxic190v.jpgThe original pitch landed in the inbox with a whiff of medical authenticity overlaid with a snicker-inducing headline: “Toxic Ties to ‘New Shower Curtain Smell’ Evident, According to Latest Laboratory Testing.”

There was a news conference, this release said, at New York University Medical Center. It was led by a doctor representing an obscure if official-sounding group that few people have heard of, the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. There were revelations about how shower curtains that are “routinely sold at multiple retail outlets” and can “release as many as 108 volatile chemicals into the air.”

Thus, the Toxic Shower Curtain Story was born.

ABCNews.com picked up on it, only to debunk it. With varying amounts of credulousness, other outlets ran with it as well, including U.S. News & World Report, The Daily News in New York, MSNBC.com and The Los Angeles Times. The gist of some of the coverage was that it was all a tempest in a bathtub, though other reports took the information at face value.

How do stories of this ilk get such bounce from major news organizations? (more…)

Not So Pretty in Pink

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Pinkwashing: Can Shopping Cure Breast Cancer?
by Anne Landman
Center for Media and Democracy, PR Watch
June 11, 2008

pink-ribbon-magnetimg_assist_custom.jpgYou’ve heard the term “greenwashing.” It refers to corporations that try to appear “green” without reducing their negative impact on the environment.

Since 2002, the group Breast Cancer Action has promoted its “Think Before You Pink” campaign. It’s fighting “pinkwashing,” which is when corporations try to boost sales by associating their products with the fight against breast cancer. Pinkwashing is a form of slacktivism — a campaign that makes people feel like they’re helping solve a problem, while they’re actually doing more to boost corporate profits. Pinkwashing has been around for a while, but is now reaching almost unbelievable levels.

The worst pinkwashers exploit the intense emotions associated with breast cancer while selling products that actually contribute to breast cancer.

So how can the average person recognize pinkwashing? Here are some examples. (more…)

Obama Campaign Fights the Smears

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Fight the Smears Web Site

Campaign: Michelle Obama never used word ‘Whitey’
by Nedra Pickler
June 12, 2008

Washington (AP) — Democrat Barack Obama’s campaign said Thursday that Michelle Obama never used the word “whitey” in a speech from the church pulpit as it launched a Web site to debunk rumors about him and his wife.

The rumor that Michelle Obama railed against “whitey” in a diatribe at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ has circulated on conservative Republican blogs for weeks and was repeated by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. The rumor included claims of a videotape of the speech that would be used to bring down Obama’s candidacy this fall.

“No such tape exists,” the campaign responds on the site, http://www.fightthesmears.com. “Michelle Obama has not spoken from the pulpit at Trinity and has not used that word.”

The site is a response to the realities of a brave new world, where information travels 24 hours a day on blogs and voters are increasingly turning to the Internet for information. It’s a particular problem for Obama, a relative newcomer to national politics who is still unknown to many voters and has been the target of persistent misinformation campaigns online. (more…)

Slacktivism: Pointless Pursuits of Ineffective Activism

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Corporate-Sponsored “Slacktivism”: Bigger and More Dangerous than the Urban Dictionary Realizes
by Anne Landman
The Weekly Spin, PRWatch.org
June 2, 2008

rubberbraceletsimg_assist_custom-72.jpgRecently while browsing the Web I came across UrbanDictionary.com, which is sort of a wiki of contemporary slang. I found some of the newer words listed there amusing, like “hobosexual” (the opposite of metrosexual; someone who cares little about their looks), “consumerican,” (“a particularly American brand of consumerism”), and “wikidemia” (“an academic work passed off as scholarly yet researched entirely on Wikipedia”).

Then I came across a word that put me into a more thoughtful zone: “slacktivism.”

“Slacktivism” (alternative spelling “slactivism”) is a fusion of the words “slacker” and “activism,” and UrbanDicationary.com defines it as “the act of participating in obviously pointless activities as an expedient alternative to actually expending effort to fix a problem.” It refers to ersatz acts that people perform that they have somehow come to believe are full of meaning, like slapping a magnetic ribbon on your car to “support the troops,” wearing a colored rubber wristband to “fight cancer,” or refusing to buy gasoline on a certain day to protest high gas prices, instead of, say, actually changing your lifestyle to use less gas. (more…)

The REAL McCain 2

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Spin

From Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films:

There’s no question John McCain is getting a free ride from the mainstream press. But with the power of YouTube and the blogosphere, we can provide an accurate portrayal of the so-called Maverick. We can put the brakes on his free ride!

Since we first released The Real McCain a year ago, our REAL McCain series has garnered close to 2 million views, with over 13,000 comments and tens of thousands more in petition signatures! Clearly, John McCain’s record is something the public wants to discuss, and yet the corporate media is doing NOTHING to present the truth. We feel obliged to continue countering the mainstream media’s love of McCain. And so we thought it was high time for a sequel: The Real McCain 2:

thanks Abe

In case you missed the first The REAL McCain, posted a year ago by Brave New Films here it is: (more…)