Corrupting the Truth

From the May 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

Corporate influence stretches far beyond the borders of Washington. Big business has learned it can effectively spin the truth with the help of public relations (PR) companies that know how to delicately and subtly manipulate information to the best advantage of the company—sometimes with little regard for the complete, honest truth.

Studies have found the media receive 40 to 50 percent of their news content from PR-generated sources; lazy journalists use this information without checking its veracity. Some 60,000 journalists around the world are registered to receive PR newswire feeds.

When a company has to deal with an activist movement or a pressure group, PR specialists spring into action to isolate, “cultivate” or “educate” the opposition. A classic technique is the use of third parties that are perceived to have more credibility than the company. For example, instead of Monsanto proclaiming that genetically altered food is good for you, a more pleasant-sounding group will proffer that advice to the unsuspecting public.

Even the Internet is being used as a PR tool. Monsanto has gone so far as to invent virtual (fake) people to direct important Internet discussion groups.

Corporate advocacy through PR protocols is a pervasive, often hidden power that exerts a lot of influence on a largely unwary public—and in some cases reflects a willingness to corrupt the truth in pursuit of the “almighty dollar.”