Friday, February 25, 2005

Thanks, Sens Durbin, Kennedy, Lautenberg, Kerry, Reid

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

- John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Thanks, Sens Durbin, Kennedy, Lautenberg, Kerry, Reid

Thank you, Senator Durbin.
Thank you, Senator Kennedy.
Thank you, Senator Lautenberg.
Thank you, Senator Kerry.
Thank you, Senator Reid.

You understood the importance and value of the public trust.
Where were the rest of the Democratic Senators?
Where were Republican Senators?
That's my question.

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II

Please join me in praying and/or sending healing thoughts for Pope John Paul II. Regardless of your belief or your faith, suffering is a common human experience.

Suffering highlights the fact that we are frail human beings.
Suffering can draw our interests toward the deep meaning we seek.
Suffering helps us to see the real value of life.
Suffering leads us to be compassionate to others.
Suffering sharpens our awareness that we will not be here forever.
Hardships have value, although they are often hidden. Suffering brings value to light.
Life is hard. Life is good. Love is present, even in the suffering we see and experience.
May we learn to show compassion and kindness towards all who are suffering.

"I pray that Mary, Health of the Sick, will continue to grant her loving protection to all who are wounded in body and spirit, and will intercede for those who care for them. May she help us to unite our sufferings with those of her Son as we journey in joyful hope to the safety of the Father's House."

Who Is Ketchum?

"I've always thought it was dangerous for the White House to get into the business of defining who is and is not a member of the press corps. That is better done by the news media."

- Mike McCurry, Clinton White House Press Secretary
Who Is Ketchum?
..and what did they have to do with the Bush Adminstration?

Open communication fosters informed decision making in our democratic society. PR is unregulated in the U.S. and is considered to be a vehicle for free speech. A PR firm's clients communicate with the news media as part of a free and open public debate. What happens when PR agencies fail to regulate themselves? When public trust is lost, the PR firm only harms itself. Has Ketchum crossed the line and contributed to knowingly polluting the news media?

According to their website, Ketchum is a unit of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:OMC; The firm is headquartered in New York. Additional information on Ketchum, its award-winning work, and past press releases can be found at

NYT - The Bush Administration is warned about its "news videos"

Electablog - I Know PR But What Am I
"Jay Rosen laments the fact that so few PR bloggers blasted Ketchum for their role in paying off Armstrong Williams to push the Dept of Education's No Child Left Behind program.."
Media Matters - On February 24 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, former Representative Susan Molinari (R-NY), president of the public affairs unit of public relations firm Ketchum Inc., made false assertions regarding President Bush's Social Security plan. - Beware the Coming Propaganda Juggernaut by Joe Conason
Exactly what Bush's minions at the SSA have been up to, aside from writing strategy plans, isn't clear yet. To find out, Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal public interest group, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the SSA last month. Sloan asked for "records of any contacts between the agency and outside public affairs firms," notably including any dealings with Ketchum and Fleishman-Hillard -- the Washington P.R. giants recently implicated in the administration's pundit payola and news management scandals. Public records show that the SSA already has entered into a $1.8 million consulting contract with Fleishman-Hillard. - Bush Administration Has Been Bery, Bery Good To Ketchum

INF Opinions - Circling The Wagons: PR Firms Fear Revenue Loss, Thanks to Williams, Ketchum and others

Corporate Engaement blog - Interview: Talespin author on PR disasters, Ketchum, blogging and more

Ketchum: Former White House Economic Policy Advisor Carlos Bonilla Joins The Washington Group – A Ketchum Company
Ketchum’s The Washington Group (TWG), a government relations and lobbying firm, announced today that Carlos Bonilla, former White House economic policy advisor, joined as senior vice president. His extensive experience working with the Bush White House enhances the firm’s government relations capabilities.
Ketchum: About The Washington Group – A Ketchum Company
Founded in 1997, The Washington Group has a mix of clients including healthcare, technology, telecommunications, environmental, real estate and transportation companies. Seventeen government relations professionals with more than 150 years of combined legislative and political experience staff the firm.

The Washington Group became a part of the Ketchum Washington, D.C. office in January 2001. The combined Washington Group/Ketchum operation works synergistically to provide clients with the full range of public affairs services including lobbying, grassroots, constituency relations and public relations. The combined entity’s practice areas include: Corporate, Healthcare, Litigation, Public Affairs & Government Relations and Technology.
USA Today: Report: PR spending doubled under Bush

A young American Speaks Out at Montgomery Blair High School - Agencies must be held accountable for payoffs; Use of tax dollars is unacceptable
"Other parts of the Ketchum deal included last year's fabrication of fake video news reports featuring government employees posing as reporters. These segments were also intended to gain public approval for NCLB by tricking Americans into believing that they were watching objective news reporting, a tactic that has been declared both illegal and dishonest by watchdog groups."
Star Tribune - A lesson on disclosure and ethics by Patrick R. Hirigoyen
"..the Bush administration was the client of a public relations firm. In his Jan. 26 news conference, Bush said federal departments would no longer follow such practices nor enter into such contracts. The damage, however, not only had been done to the columnists' reputation, but to the administration's position. It appeared as if support could be obtained from experts and opinion leaders only by paying them -- certainly, not the perception the agencies wanted to create.

Which points to the role of the third party, particularly in the Williams case: the Ketchum Public Relations firm. This is an established, reputable firm, respected by clients and competitors. In the Williams case, the Jan. 12 New York Times quoted a spokesperson for the Council of Public Relations Firms as saying it was Williams' responsibility, not Ketchum's, to disclose the payments.

That's passing the buck. The strategy and program developed by Ketchum did a disservice to the client, hurting the administration's position and, in the end, its reputation."

Stories Related to Omnicom Group:
"The industry began selling its soul when it sold out to these advertising companies because the public relations business should be about the truth, not about sales."

- Jack O'Dwyer, public relations gadfly

CorpWatch - Spinning Media for Government by Chris Raphael
"In another curious development, a site on that touts the virtues of influencing public opinion leaders – through a special tool Ketchum calls “Influencer Relationship Management” – is no longer working.

Snapshots of the site on Wayback Machine (see and type in in the search bar) describe how the system works by “influencing the influencers.” The premise of Ketchum’s system, described in a press release and in snapshots of the site on Wayback Machine, is that there are a select group of people – such as elite media and analysts -- who mold public opinion. Through an “IRM portal,” clients can view the opinions of these influencers on an “attitude” scale. A snapshot of an “IRM portal” even seems to promise pictures of who these “influencers” are."

US Newswire, Feb 23, 2005:
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint against the Social Security Administration (SSA) in the District Court for the District of Columbia for failing to produce documents pursuant to Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA). CREW had asked SSA to produce any records relating to contracts SSA may have entered into with any public relations firms..

".we know that SSA has paid Fleischman-Hillard nearly $1.8 million since September 2003, we don't know what role, if any, Fleischman- Hillard has played in manufacturing that crisis. This is what we first tried to learn by filing the FOIA request and what we are now trying to learn by filing a lawsuit."
O'Dwyer PR/Communications website: "A PR industry ad campaign is needed to offset the Feb. 13 New York Times article headlined: “Spinning Frenzy: PR’s Bad Press".
”Sweeping consolidation has transformed public relations over the last two decades, with such publicly traded global communications giants as Omnicom, the WPP Group, the Interpublic Group, and Publicis Groupe acquiring a bevy of large, formerly independent firms. These behemoths have picked off well-known companies like Ketchum, Fleishman-Hillard, Hill & Knowlton, Weber Shandwick and Burson-Marsteller, placing them inside holding companies that also operate advertising, strategic consulting and marketing businesses....

"This is the Three Mile Island of the P.R. business," said Jack O'Dwyer, a public relations gadfly in New York who heads a research firm and publishes a newsletter bearing his name. "The industry began selling its soul when it sold out to these advertising companies because the public relations business should be about the truth, not about sales." - LINK - The White House gave special privileges to a conservative operative with a shady past. But this is only the latest scandal in the GOP war against news.

Press Think: Further Analysis on WH Post Press

"Now the trail has led to Jeff Gannon, and In the Press Room of the White House that is Post Press. As far as I'm concerned, it is all one story. But I do not pretend to understand it yet."

- Jay Rosen

Press Think: Further Analysis on WH Post Press

A high-five to Jay Rosen. He's done some excellent analysis on the Gannon case in its relation to the Bush Administration's de-certification move against the Washington press. The story may shift, in its focus, from Gannon to a $97 million pot of post-press money that went to a PR firm named Ketchum.

Read this excerpt from his latest posting:
Whomever declared "Jeff Gannon" a valid correspondent believed, first, in the invalidity of the regular White House correspondents, whose representatives had of course rejected Gannon for a regular pass. As he rejected them. Froomkin reported on it (March 10, 2004) in the White House Briefing column he does for the Washington Post:
Gannon works for a tiny, supremely conservative organization called Talon News which publishes a Web site by the same name as well as one called With the sole exception of Gannon, who says he is compensated, all the "reporters" are volunteers.
Gannon's presence in the White House briefing room is something of an irritant to most of the press corps, which considers his questions at briefings to be preposterous softballs.

And in return, Gannon sometimes writes on his own Web site about his views of the corps and how there is "perhaps no depth to which it will not sink in order to undermine a presidency."
In this view, there is no such thing as journalism; there is only raw politics. According to Media Matters, Gannon said on his radio show January 27 that the White House press corps "deserves to be gone around because they're not telling the truth about Social Security reform."

The key word is deserves. An illegitimate press demands not only national scorn but practical replacement. It is in this sense that "Jeff Gannon" deserved his press pass, Armstrong Williams deserved his $240,000, and Ketchum public relations deserved $97 million of taxpayer money to help the Bush Administration communicate the message. (My sense is that the big uncovered facts in this scandal are to be found there, in the $97 million pot of post-press money that went to Ketchum, a PR firm willing to bend the rules, and help create a replacement for real journalism.)

In the press room of the White House that thinks itself post-press, many of the people who have been de-certified still show up for their jobs each day, expecting some kind of briefing, as if they were, still, the Fourth Estate, as if they yet had some role in national politics. It probably galls the Administration that the ritual with real journalists has to go on, since "they don’t represent the public any more than other people do."

- Jay Rosen
SEE JAY ROSEN'S JAN 19th ARTICLE - Bloggers Are Missing in Action as Ketchum Tests the Conscience of PR
"Maybe this is the way things are done all the time in PR today. It's one of the most plausible explanations we have for the Ketchum contract, the apparent fraudulence of which is roughly parallel to the dubious memos in the Dan Rather case. But there we had bloggers who refused to let go."
SEE LISA STONE'S JANUARY 20th ARTICLE - Ketchum and Bloggers: Who Said What? What Remains? Lisa Stone Reports.



One of my favorite blogs is authored by Patty Ann Smith. Hope4America is like an oasis in the blogosphere. When I search for hope, inspiration, and meditation, she's always there to provide. I'm grateful.

Power Line Writes A Gannon-Shielding Piece of Fantasy

Power Line Writes A Gannon-Shielding Piece of Fantasy
If this is reliable blog journalism, I'm Jeff Gannon J.D. Guckert

I generally don't read much from Power Line. I went there today to have a look. What I found was what I perceive to be a lot of one-sided commentary, which is really no surprise. There seems to be very little balance, which is no surprise. The fact that these people have a direct line to mainstream media (such as CNN and MSNBC), all too often using Hinderaker as a voice for the overall blogging world should be a surprise. It helps me understand why the mainstream is squelching the Guckert/Gannon story. I'll speak more specifically about that in a moment.

Even the usually outspoken Christian Right fears talking about the story of Gannon in the White House Press Corps. And I think this is a's almost criminal that they are afraid to speak out.

I'm a Christian myself, and here's what I think. If Gannon was gay, I don't care about that aspect of his person. As a matter of fact, he'd have my support for his right to achieve full equality in the eyes of civil law. If he was a prostitute, then he was. Everyone can change. That said, I find Gannon to be a proud and bitter partisan, which has lead him to make false attacks on others who seek the truth about his entry into the White House Press Corps. To provide an example, here is what Jeff Gannon/JD Guckert recently said:
"If I had been a liberal reporter with the salacious past now attributed to me, I would be the Grand Marshall of the next Gay Pride Parade as well as a media darling, able to give softball interviews."

It runs against common values we share Americans to stay silent on this matter. It has nothing to do with Mr. Gannon's ego and everything to do with the White House.

Allow me to get back to the Power Line discussion.

The most utterly surprising Power Line entry I read was the one where shame is cast upon those citizens who want to know why a partisan plagiarizer with no real experience and no news organization (at the time) was given access to our White House. How can Powerline be so bold in their denial and get away with it?
How f**king stupid have we become that our mainstream media (and the public) will be satisfied with such blathering and ineffective excuses from Gannon's right-wing protectors?

In a search to make J.D. Guckert look like a victim, John Hinderaker belittles himself by relieving nearly all personal accountability from JD Guckert and attempting to place it on others.

It is a curious escape from reality, having little to do with the truth of the matter.

Here are some excerpts:
..liberals began “investigating” Gannon.

They found that he was a homosexual and started posting photos of him on their web sites, along with vicious personal attacks.

Gannon, stunned by the virulence of the left’s attack on him, quit his job at Talon.

a poor guy who thought he could put his past behind him and pursue a career as a reporter.

they seized on poor Mr. Gannon, made silly, baseless accusations against him, denounced him for being a homosexual

to distract attention from Jordan

to punish Mr. Gannon.."
Citizens had reason to investigate Guckert.
Guckert/Gannon wasn't the only one who "quit". Talon, the so-called "news organization" he represented, took a holiday itself. Most of their articles were wiped clean off of their website soon after bloggers brought their name to light.
If that doesn't raise a red flag, then I think you must be color-blind.

Gannon was no "poor guy". He was doing well for himself, it seems.

He's even back on the scene now, tilting at windmills of the "Old Media". He's possibly getting off on all the attention.

Who knows? Maybe he'll be the next Rush Limbaugh.

But he didn't belong in the White House Press Corps and we still want to know how and why he was there. The "accusations" made about him were not silly. They were based on real evidence found by a simple internet search.

The distracting/punishing jargon is purely rhetorical.

I think that John Hinderaker's piece was a sad joke made to cover for someone whose situation in the White House should be FULLY investigated to alleviate public distrust and concern.


One other comment, since I rarely talk about Power Line. That glaring flag of Israel directly under the US flag on the sidebar leads me to believe that there are more than just US interests in mind at Powerline. Our nation supports many friends around the world, so I ask myself why the Powerliners need to stick that one particular flag in our faces? I wonder if Powerline supports the espionage for Israel that has taken place within the OSP?

Gannon has come back with an internet presence, and Americans who respect truth ought to ride him out on a rail and wave a fond bye-bye at the station. Buy Hinderaker a ticket while you're at it.

See World O'Crap blog for a counterpoint to Tom Maguire's "Gannon/Guckert for Dummies"