Wednesday, April 05, 2006


The Magic Kingdom: The US Meets the Nosnibors

The line between fantasy and reality grows ever thinner as we discover, thanks to a tip from Atrios, that advertisements disguised as news stories are being planted in the media. Welcome to Erewhon: Fake TV News: Findings Video News Releases From June 2005 to March 2006, the Center for Media and Democracy documented television newsrooms' use of selected video news releases (VNRs) and satellite media tour (SMT) "interviews." Some examples: - TrendMicro planted pn Oklahoma TV a "news report [that] featured testimony from Jessica Sweedler, a Bay Area phishing victim; Mikael Niehoff, a technology crime unit detective; and David Perry, and a computer security expert from Trend Micro Software. In no uncertain terms, the report recommended PC-Cilin, a $50 Internet security program from Trend Micro, as 'a first line of defense' against phishing scams." -It seems George Bush isn't the only one who plays Village People. "If you thought your job was tough, try being Kate Brookes, a local ABC news reporter in Nevada, a CBS reporter in Texas, a Fox reporter in Missouri, and an ABC reporter (again) in Louisiana. Actually, Brookes isn't a reporter at all. She just plays one on TV. In reality, she's a publicist for Medialink...In January 2006, Medialink sent Brookes to Iowa to shoot a VNR [Video News Release] on the 'Ethanol boom,' the growing trend of using corn-based fuel as an alternative energy source...the VNR was funded by Siemens AG, a worldwide engineering corporation who supplies process automation systems to two-thirds of the ethanol plants in the United States." And then there's Lady Ronco... or should I say, Dame Nokia, Mistress Motorola, Duchess T.I. or Madame Swiffer, since those are the companies who pay her. "Robin Raskin has admittedly earned her reputation as a technology guru. The former editor-in-chief of Family PC magazine, she's authored six books on parenting in the digital age and has testified before the Federal Trade Commission on Internet safety issues. Unfortunately, she's demonstrated time and again that her credibility is for sale. Dubbed by one insider as 'the VNR Queen,' Raskin has appeared on dozens of fake news segments as a seemingly impartial expert, offering praise for various gizmos and gadgets while secretly in the employ of the gadgetmakers themselves." Ed Schultz does this crap with investment ads posing as talk radio. “I am not much afraid of infection,” said I, impatiently, “but I have some regard for my character; and if I know a man to be an embezzler of other people’s money, be sure of it, I will give him as wide a berth as I can. If he were ill or poor---” “Ill or poor!” interrupted the interpreter, with a face of great alarm. “So that’s your notion of propriety! You would consort with the basest criminals, and yet deem simple embezzlement a bar to friendly intercourse. I cannot understand you.” “But I am poor myself,” cried I. “You were,” said he; “and you were liable to be severely punished for it... (Samuel Butler, Erewhon, Chapter 9)
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