In past fulminations, we’ve opined about PR people producing client-friendly video and placing it on the news, posing as reporters narrating the news in a client-friendly way and stuffing polls covered by the news in ways that benefit their clients or employers.
But the one thing that reporters still completely control is the questioning of its government and their apologists. That’s the heart and soul of the good old Fourth Estate, right?
Not so fast there, Bernstein. Last week the Bush Administration’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reportedly used PR flunkies posing as reporters to ask softball questions about FEMA’s response to southern California wildfires. The old “I’m not a reporter, but I play one on TV” trick. This “reporting” was apparently covered live by MSNBC and Fox.
Darn it all, if only Browny’s boys had thought of this in New Orleans! “Browny’s doing a swell job, isn’t he?” “No human being could possibly have imagined a levy could break, right?” “Would you say recovery efforts are going great, or super-duper great?”
This obviously isn’t a widespread practice, and it isn’t likely to become one. But honestly, the arrogance of the PR profession these days boggles the mind.