On the first Monday of each January after the inauguration of a new president, there is a secret meeting of editors of influential newspapers at which no notes are taken and no words are spoken to anyone outside of the group. All who attend are sworn to secrecy.
This assemblage began after the second inauguration of President Eisenhower on January 21, 1957. It’s most recent meeting occurred the Monday after President Obama was re-elected in 2012.
The only reason I know about this was because a close friend of mine has been in charge of organizing the clandestine meetings for a number of years. His newspaper is considered one of the two most influential in the world and he was on its editorial board before becoming stricken with an incurable illness. He only mentioned it to me last week on his deathbed, saying he felt guilt-ridden about the meetings and wanted to speak about it to someone he trusted.
Unfortunately, he trusted me as public relations person.
But inspired by the whistle blower and truth seeker Edwin Snowden, I have betrayed my life long friend and have decided to make public the information because I feel that it not only effects every American but also citizens of countries around the world.
[Writer’s Note: I decided to divulge this information on the O’Dwyer web site because I knew that newspapers would not publish it. Doing so may affect my career in public relations, but like Snowden I feel the truth must be told.]
The secret cabal of editors gathers to decide which presidential candidate their newspapers will support in the next election, knowing how powerful four years of flacking for a candidate and defaming opponents can influence voters. What makes this unusual is that political views or parties have no influence on the editor’s decision. Only pragmatism reigns: Which candidate will be friendlier to the media?
So now I’ve betrayed the trust of a dear and dying friend. But I’m positive that new friends are available. Does anyone have the telephone numbers of Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Daniel Ellsberg, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange?
Happy April Fools Day (and don’t be fooled by the declarations of politicians, editorial writers, TV pundits or by promises of continuous major media placements made to clients by P.R. people).
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Arthur Solomon was senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller. He now consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He’s at email@example.com.