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Quotes from Toxic Sludge is Good for You!
See my review of this book for addition information.
Every big media event needs what journalists and flacks alike refer to as the “the hook.” An ideal hook becomes the central element of a story that makes it newsworthy, evokes a strong emotional response, and sticks in the memory. In the case of the Gulf War, the “hook” was invented by Hill & Knowlton [a PR firm]. In style, substance and mode of delivery, it bore an uncanny resemblance to England’s World War I hearings that accused German soldiers of killing babies.
“… Lying under oath in front of a congressional committee is a crime; lying from under the cover of anonymity to a caucus is merely public relations.”82
In fact, the emotionally moving testimony on October 10 came from a 15-year-old Kuwati girl, known only by her first name of Nayirah. According to the Caucus, Nayirah’s full name was being kept confidential to prevent Iraqi reprisals against her family in occupied Kuwait. Sobbing, she described what she had seen with her own eyes in a hospital in Kuwait City. Her written testimony was passed out in a media kit prepared by Citizens for a Free Kuwait [a front group created by the PR firm]. “I volunteered at the al-Addan hospital,” Nayirah said. “While I was there, I saw Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns, and go into the room where … babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die.”83
Three months passed between Nayirah’s testimony and the start of the war. During those months, the story of the babies torn from their incubators was repeated over and over again. President Bush told the story. It was recited as fact in Congressional testimony, on TV and radio talk shows, and at the UN Security Council. “Of all the accusations made against the dictator,” MacArthur observed, “none had more impact than the one about Iraqi soldiers removing 312 babies from their incubators and leaving them to die on the cold hospital floors of Kuwait City.”84
At the Human Rights Caucus, however, Hill & Knowlton and Congressman Lantos failed to reveal that Nayirah was a member of the Kuwati Royal Family. Her father, in fact, was Saud Nasir al-Sabah, Kuwait’s Ambassador to the US, who sat listening in the hearing room during her testimony. The Caucus also failed to reveal that H&K vice-president Lauri Fitz-Pegado had coached Nayirah in what even the Kuwati’s own investigators later confirmed was false testimony.
Chapter Ten, The Torturers’ Lobby
In fact, the corporate victory [over the greens] was so complete that the public relations industry was quietly advising its corporate clients to refrain from gloating.
Chapter Nine, Silencing Spring
Corporations have found that one good way to curry favors with the media is to court individual journalists who have become media celebrities, offering them large sums of money for a brief appearance and talk. … More recently, Political Finance & Lobby Reporter noted in June 1995 that “ABC News’ Cokie Roberts accepted a $35,000 fee for a speech last May to the Junior League of Greater Fort Lauderdale that was subsidized by JM Family Enterprises, a privately-held $4.2 billion company that distributes Toyotas. … Roberts refused to discuss her speaking fee. ‘She feels strongly that it’s not something that in any way, shape or form should be discussed in public,’ ABC spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said when American Journalism Review reporter Alicia Shephard requested an interview.”39
Chapter Eleven, All the News That’s Fit to Print