This year marks the Center for Media and Democracy’s fifth annual Falsies Awards. The Falsies are the non-partisan group’s attempt to shine an unflattering light on those responsible for polluting the information environment during the past year. According to the group: “Don’t think this is an award in name only. Heavens no! Falsies recipients can collect their prizes — a pair of Groucho Marx glasses, our two cents and a chance to atone for their spinning ways by making a detailed public apology — by visiting CMD’s office in Madison, Wisconsin (detailed directions available on request).
This year’s Gold and Silver Falsies go to masters of war deception. No. 1 is the Pentagon’s successful effort to turn retired military officers into the Bush Administration’s “message force multipliers,” mostly on broadcast and cable television. “You could see that they were messaging,” one former Defense Department official explained to New York Times journalist David Barstow, who first reported on the covert program. “You could see they were taking verbatim what the [Defense] secretary was saying … and they were saying it over and over.”
The Silver award goes to the reporters and commentators who placed ideology over accuracy when discussing and discounting studies by the prestigious British journal Lancet that suggests that some 650,000 Iraqis had died as of mid-2006, a number that may be more than one million by now.
The Bronze Falsie recognizes a massive greenwash campaign by the coal industry, which ramped up its public relations and marketing efforts in response to the public awareness of global warming that has made it difficult to build new coal-burning power plants. Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC), an industry front group formed by coal, mining, electric and railroad companies, nearly quadrupled its budget for PR, advertising and “grassroots” organizing, from 2007 to 2008. ABEC sought to influence the U.S. presidential election with a $35 million campaign touting “clean coal” in key primary and caucus states.
The first-ever Lifetime Achievement Falsie goes to a serial corporate front man:”It seems like just yesterday, when industry lobbyist and anti-labor lawyer Rick Berman was helping tobacco giant Philip Morris (PM) defend itself against pesky public health advocates. In 1995, Berman urged PM to create a front group called the ‘Guest Choice Network’ to foster ‘a proactive, aggressive mentality’ against smoking bans in restaurants and other public places. An ‘additional benefit,’ he explained in a letter to PM, would be if the group were ‘externally perceived as driven by restaurant owners’ giving it ‘more flexibility and creativity allowed than if it is ‘owned’ by Philip Morris.’ Today, the Guest Choice Network is known as the Center for Consumer Freedom. “60 Minutes” profiled Rick Berman in a segment titled “Meet Dr. Evil”
All the juicy details are available at Falsies 2008.
Fimoculous: The Lists 2008
And if you’re not yet tired out by the best of 2008 (what with all the bigtime awards shows coming soon (the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards, the Grammys) , then head on over to Fimoculous. Rex Sorgatz’ site lists hundreds of End of Year lists going back to 2001 in advertising, art, books, business, fashion, gadgets, music, paranormal, sex, travel and much much more. We’re just too out of breathe to go on.