Friday, June 04, 2010

Where Corporations Learn How to 'Manipulate' the Media

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The word 'manipulate' was used by Edward Bernays to describe how big corporations, like BP and Exxon, should harness the 'organized habits and opinions of the masses'. Bernays considered such 'manipulation' to be essential in a democratic society. BP's recent oil spill --now threatening the U.S. Gulf Coast, indeed, the entire Gulf of Mexico --is an occasion in which corporations will apply the principle of 'manipulation' referred to by Bernays.
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation [emphasis mine, LH] of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.

--Edward Bernays
Over a period of some thirty years or more, the 'manipulation' of the media has become a growth industry. As one might expect, a pioneer 'consulting firm' is located in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, TX. Ammerman Enterprises 'trains' executives from huge firms like Exxon, Shell, DuPont, HCA, Humana et al. The 'executives' and other corporate kiss-ups are taught what we would call 'spin' and 'propaganda' techniques most of which are especially applicable in 'crisis' situations of which the BP 'spill' is a corporatist's [fascist's] worst nightmare come true.

It was Ammerman Enterprises which 'trained' Exxon executives with respect to the Exxon Valdez. What we call 'spin' and PR, consultants call 'bridging' --a fancy, 'corporate' word for 'let's talk about something else' or 'I don't wanna talk about that; let's talk about this!' Another technique goes beyond mere bridging; it is a complete 'paradigm shift'! Done well, a hapless or cub reporter may not even notice.
Thousands of business and other professionals have chosen The Ammerman Experience's Effective Media Communications workshop in order to learn the skills needed to deal successfully with the media. In this small-group session you will learn:
  • How to be interviewed.
  • What is required before, during and after an interview.
  • How to get your points into an interview.
  • The most common (and damaging) media traps.
  • What reporters want to know and why.
  • How important perceptions are to your reputation.
  • How to handle the communications aspects of a crisis situation.
Who Should Attend

This workshop is appropriate for anyone who may have to deal with the media.

Practical Learning


This is a skills-development workshop, not a lecture on concepts. As our firm's name suggests, the training we provide is experiential. We use simulated environments, including tough, experienced journalists. Some features of this workshop are:
  • Instructors and role players with extensive media experience.
  • Three television interviews.
  • Two crisis news conferences with multiple reporters.
  • Each exercise is videotaped and critiqued in an open forum by the instructor.
--The Ammerman Experience
The First Amendment, I believe, granted the right of free speech to real people --not mere legal abstractions, non-persons, artificial entities! The U.S. Supreme Court, dominated by five corporate-biased ideologues, think otherwise though it is anyone's guess how idiots like Scalia or Roberts managed to conclude so fallaciously, with such overt bias toward what St. Thomas More in fact called a 'conspiracy of rich men'. More's description remains the best description of the modern corporation.

It is 'real' people --not 'legal abstractions', mere words on paper --that are most harmed by 'corporate personhood' and the crimes against both nature and humanity that have resulted! In the Elizabethan era, 'companies' operated via a 'charter' granted by the sovereign. Doing business was not a 'right' but 'privilege' and a displeased Queen could revoke the privilege at will. I wonder if Elizabeth would have, by this time, revoked the right of BP to do business.

I can perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men procuring their own commodities under the name and title of the commonwealth.

They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely, without fear of losing, that they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labour of the poor for as little money as may be. These devices, when the rich men have decreed to be kept and observed for the commonwealth's sake, that is to say for the wealth also of the poor people, then they be made laws. But these most wicked and vicious men, when they have by their insatiable covetousness divided among themselves all those things, which would have sufficed all men, yet how far be they from the wealth and felicity of the Utopian commonwealth? Out of the which, in that all the desire of money with the use of thereof is utterly secluded and banished, how great a heap of cares is cut away! How great an occasion of wickedness and mischief is plucked up by the roots!

Sir Thomas More (1478 - 1535), Utopia, Of the Religions in Utopia
I am among those who believe that it is time to restore the 'corporate death penalty' by seizing the assets of BP and prosecuting whatever management is guilty of criminal negligence and/or malfeasance of any type. Seizing BP effectively ends that company's existence as a corporation. Any assets remaining after damages are paid must be controllable by the public and in the public interest. The current management is put out of a job and where crimes are found --prosecuted.


Media Conglomerates, Mergers, Concentration of Ownership

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