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Center for Public Integrity Reveals How PR Firms Manufacture Consent for Oil, Big Business

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The Center for Public Integrity has broken new ground by publishing a months-long investigation into the public relations and influence-peddling spending conducted by Big Business trade associations between 2008-2012.

That investigation highlights spending for trade associations ranging from theAmerican Petroleum Institute, National Mining Association, Edison Electric Institute, America’s Natural Gas Association and many others not in the oil, gas and coal industry. The energy industrial complex, though, by far spent the most on public relations according to the Center.

API by far spent the most money on public relations according to the Center’s analysis, which explained its research methodology as a side-bar to the story.

The methodology involved digging into Internal Revenue Service 990 forms, which list the top five contractors paid by trade associations, as long as the payments total more than $100,000. The Center explained that because some trade associations often leave descriptions vague in terms of what the money went toward, it made tracking the data all the more difficult.

“[T]rade groups often vaguely describe the services their top contractors provide as ‘professional fees’ or ‘consulting,’” they wrote. “Because many firms offer a wide range of services, it’s often unclear exactly what kind of work was done on the industry associations’ behalf.”

Public Relations Over Lobbying

The Center’s investigation focuses in particular on the fact that public relations efforts now trump lobbying efforts in terms of at-large spending for major trade associations.

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