investigative journalists Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber (Toxic
Sludge Is Good for You! and Mad
Cow U.S.A.) are back with a gripping exposé of the public
relations industry and the scientists who back their business-funded,
anti-consumer-safety agendas. There are two kinds of "experts"
in question--the PR spin doctors behind the scenes and the "independent"
experts paraded before the public, scientists who have been hand-selected,
cultivated, and paid handsomely to promote the views of corporations
involved in controversial actions. Lively writing on controversial
topics such as dioxin, bovine growth hormone, and genetically modified
food makes this a real page-turner, shocking in its portrayal of the
real and potential dangers in each of these technological innovations
and of the "media pseudo-environment" created to obfuscate
the risks. By financing and publicizing views that support the goals
of corporate sponsors, PR campaigns have, over the course of the century,
managed to suppress the dangers of lead poisoning for decades, silence
the scientist who discovered that rats fed on genetically modified
corn had significant organ abnormalities, squelch television and newspaper
stories about the risks of bovine growth hormone, and place enough
confusion and doubt in the public's mind about global warming to suppress
any mobilization for action.
Rampton and Stauber introduce the movers and shakers of the PR
industry, from the "risk communicators" (whose job is
to downplay all risks) and "outrage managers" (with their
four strategies--deflect, defer, dismiss, or defeat) to those who
specialize in "public policy intelligence" (spying on
opponents). Evidently, these elaborate PR campaigns are created
for our own good. According to public relations philosophers,
the public reacts emotionally to topics related to health and safety
and is incapable of holding rational discourse. Needless to say,
Rampton and Stauber find these views rather antidemocratic and intend
to pull back the curtain to reveal the real wizard in Oz. This is
one wake-up call that's hard to resist.
$19.96 from Amazon.com. Pub. December, 2000, 360 pages.