Edition, November 21, 2001, Page 1
SAUDI ARABIA HIRES QORVIS
Saudi Arabia has hired
Qorvis Communications for message development work in the
U.S. The firm will conduct a poll to gauge American sentiment
toward the Kingdom, which has been hammered by the media
for its alleged failure to sever financial ties with Osama
bin Laden's Al Qaeda network.
Qorvis, which is headed
by former Shandwick North America CEO Michael Petruzzello,
also will arrange meetings with Congressional leaders for
Adel Jubeir, chief foreign policy aide to Crown Prince Abdullah.
Saudi Arabia hired Burson-Marsteller
three days following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
H&K GETS $2.2M HIGHWAY
The Illinois Dept. of Transportation has awarded Hill
and Knowlton a $2.2 million contract to handle communications
for the rebuilding of Interstate 74 near Peoria, according
to Gene Reineke, COO of H&K/USA. The firm beat out Golin/Harris
International and KemperLesnik Communications.
Reineke said ten firms responded to the RFP, and final
presentations were made in Springfield on Sept. 11, the
day of the terror attacks.
The $320 million "I-74 Project represents the largest
downstate road construction in Illinois," said Reineke.
It is expected to be completed in 2005. H&K, said Reineke,
will inform motorists of potential bottlenecks during construction,
and tell them about alternative routes.
I-74, designed in the late '50s, is one of the oldest
stretches in Illinois' interstate system. It serves as the
main commuter route to and from Peoria's downtown area and
its industrial center in East Peoria.
has been named Asia Pacific president at Edelman PR Worldwide.
The 13-year Burson-Marsteller veteran joins next year. Edelman
is relocating that regional headquarters from Singapore
to Hong Kong in anticipation of increased business from
China and Taiwan as both have just joined the World Trade
King has left Edward Howard & Co. for the IR/corporate
communications director slot at client the Scotts Co. Heyman
Assoc. did the placement...Elizabeth
Sheppard, who was senior VP-marketing at Hallmark
Entertainment, is now senior director-marketing and communications
at Girl Scouts of the USA headquarters in New York.
BUCHWALD, UNGER LEAVING MS&L
Monita Buchwald, vice chairman of Manning, Selvage &
Lee and with the firm since 1980, and Lonny Unger, executive
VP and with it since 1981, are leaving the firm. They will
become consultants to MS&L, effective Dec. 31. There
have been several previous staff cutbacks at MS&L.
CEO Lou Capozzi has established an office of the chairman
consisting of John Bellizzi, CFO; Mike Marino, managing
director of MS&L/New York; Joe Gleason, head of MS&L's
corporate practice, and Ann Moravick, healthcare chief.
Capozzi also has established a global policy board.
Buchwald is the daughter of Elias Buchwald, vice chairman
B-M LED FIGHT VS. FED. AIRPORT
Burson-Marsteller advised the Aviation Security Assn.
in its bid to thwart the federalization of airport security,
which was endorsed by a House/Senate conference last week.
Brian Lott and Emily Richeda in B-M's Washington, D.C.,
office spearheaded the effort. ASA members are Securicor,
Securitas and ICTS, which supply airport screening personnel.
The group's chief lobbyist Kenneth Quinn, who was Federal
Aviation Administration general counsel, fears nationalizing
the security force will "create immediate chaos in
He said there was "absolutely no evidence linking
the Sept. 11 hijackings to a breakdown in the security function
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) led the fight for federalization.
HORN GRABS $30K-A-MONTH BLUEARC
The Horn Group picked up the $30,000-a-month PR account
of BlueArc Corp., the San Jose-based high-tech company.
Manning, Selvage & Lee, Golin/Harris International and
Hill and Knowlton's Blanc & Otus unit also pitched the
CEO Sabrina Horn considers BlueArc a major win because
of its leading position in the computer "network storage
systems" space. The Lawrence Livermore Laboratories,
last month, selected five BlueArc storage systems for use
in its accelerated strategic computing initiative.
The Horn Group, with headquarters in San Francisco, has
57 staffers and will have fees in the $10 million range
this year, according to Horn.
Edition, November 21, 2001, Page 2
INTERPUBLIC HAS LOSS OF $477.5M
The Interpublic Group
of Cos. reported a loss of $477.5 million or $1.29 a share
for the third quarter vs. a profit of $90.8M or 24 cents
a share in the same 2000 quarter. Earnings reflected $592
million in restructuring costs.
Revenues dropped 7.4%
in the period to $1.6 billion from $1.7B with about 20%
of this decline due to lower ad volume in the wake of 9/11.
Total debt rose to $3.1B,
equal to 63% of total capital, vs. debt of $2.1B, or 46%
of capital at the end of 2000.
Cash and cash equivalents
were $685M and total assets were $11.3B.
Interest expense rose
to $46.9M in the quarter from $36.5M in the year earlier
quarter, reflecting higher average borrowings.
IPG reported $592.8 million
in severance payments, lease terminations and other costs
in the quarter related to its acquisitions and told analysts
that there would be no more such costs.
Analysts said it looked
like IPG was taking "the big bath" (lumping costs
in one quarter so that earnings in future quarters would
Habits Improve from "Terrible"
The analysts said IPG,
its stock battered from a high of $58 two years ago to the
low $20's and which now faces a grim future for ad revenues,
is improving its information flow.
No balance sheet was
provided to the analysts (it was supposed to be filed with
the SEC on Nov. 14) but debt figures and interest costs
were supplied, they noted.
IPG's disclosure practices
have improved from "terrible" to "getting
better," said the analysts. The company had to borrow
$500M to pay for the restructuring costs of the True North
purchase, they noted. Credit rating services have lowered
the credit ratings of IPG but they still remain relatively
high, analysts said.
The IPG conference call
Nov. 13 was open to the public via IPG's website. Only analysts
and not reporters were allowed to ask questions.
CEO John Dooner and CFO
Sean Orr told the analysts that even if revenues are flat
in 2002 the company would be able to increase earnings by
15% because of the deep staff and other cuts in expenses.
They said overall staff cuts thus far are about 6,000, or
10% of the previous staff total of 60,000 worldwide.
IPG said it expects to
save $300 million yearly by trimming staff and office costs.
Net for the third quarter,
not counting the acquisition charges, would have been 15
cents a share vs. 29 cents a share in the 2000 quarter (also
not counting restructuring charges in that quarter).
IPG owns PR operations
whose combined net fees were more than $750 million in 2000.
These include Weber Shandwick and Golin/Harris Int'l.
PRIMEDIA SELLS BACON'S FOR
Primedia, which lost
$503 million so far this year, has inked an agreement to
sell its Bacon's Information unit to Sweden's Observer AB
for $90 million.
The deal is part of Primedia's
program to unload $250 million in non-core assets in an
effort to pare debt.
Primedia acquired Bacon's
for $50 million in 1995. It claims the unit generated more
than $50 million in operating earnings since then.
Primedia, which publishes
more than 280 magazines including Seventeen, Fly
Fisherman, New York and American Baby,
has been hammered by the advertising slump.
CEO Tom Rogers said the
company has not seen further deterioration in the ad market
since the days immediately following the Sept. 11 terror
Primedia generated $1.3
billion in nine-month revenue. Its stock trades at $2.03.
The 52-week range is $12.94 and $1.70.
is involved in media monitoring, polling, editorial services
and various marketing intelligence activities.
The Bacon's deal marks
its initial foray into the U.S.
Bacon's Clipping Bureau
was founded in 1932. Observer has its own clipping service.
BRINK'S SHUTS DOWN PR DEPT.
Brink's, the nation's No. 1 armored truck company, has
closed its corporate communications department. "No
comment" is its official PR strategy, according to
John Lowe, VP-global human resources.
Marven Moss, who was director-corporate communications,
and D'arcy Lyons, communications assistant, have left the
Pittston Co. division, following the decision to shut the
unit to cut overhead costs.
Ed Cunningham, VP-global security, is now in charge of
press or media inquiries, said Lowe in an internal memo
sent Nov. 6.
Lowe, however, wrote "Our policy continues to be
He informed staffers that Richard Hickson, Brink's president,
and Michael Dan, Pittston's president, "must approve
any spokesperson, or any statement made on behalf of the
company. Management must not comment externally either on
the record or off the record," wrote Lowe. Cunningham
was travelling, and could not be reached. His assistant
confirmed the departures of Moss and Lyons.
Lowe was "too busy" to talk.
Brink's operating profit for the third-quarter slipped
33 percent to $21.7 million from last year's period.
ICKES PUSHES FOR $$ FOR SOFTWARE
The New York Software Industry Assn. has retained Ickes
and Enright Group, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm,
to help NYSIA get a share of the federal money that is coming
to New York to help businesses hurt by the terrorist attack
on Sept. 11.
Harold Ickes, a co-partner of the firm, is a former deputy
chief of staff in the Clinton Administration.
Edition, November 21, 2001, Page 3
LOCAL NEWS EXECS
FEEL AD PRESSURE
percent of the 118 TV news directors who were surveyed in
a poll conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism,
said they have been pressured to kill negative stories or
run positive ones.
TV news directors said they are being pressed to produce
more news for less money at the same time advertisers are
increasingly trying to dictate the content of their shows.
and restaurants were particularly interested in stopping
negative stories about their industries, some news directors
executives say they frequently are pressured to run "puff
pieces" about sponsors.
the market, the more acute these problems are, the survey
The survey shows one in four stories done on local news
is about crime. Health stories are done far more often than
other social issues. Stories on poverty or the arts are
rarely done, the survey found.
of a random sample of news directors at the nation's 850
news outlets was conducted in August.
FEMINIST LOBBYING GROUP BUYS
Ms. magazine has been sold by Liberty Media for
Women to Feminist Majority Foundation, a non-profit lobbying
group, which will close the New York office and move it
to Los Angeles.
At least 14 New York-based editorial staffers have been
The final issue, which is due out in early December, will
be Ms.'s 30th anniversary edition.
Eleanor Smeal, who is president of FMF, said the new Ms.
will adopt an activist tone when it appears early next year.
The group has been active on a number of issues, including
support for the abortion pill RU 486 and support for the
plight of women in Afghanistan.
Smeal said the magazine will continue to chart literary
and pop trends, but will also feature in-depth features
on the plight of women internationally and give readers
tools to turn information into action.
Ms. was started in 1972 by Gloria Steinem, who will become
a consulting editor.
The House of Representatives
voted 405-2 on Nov. 7 to create Radio Free Afghanistan to
beam U.S. news and entertainment programs to Afghans in
their local languages, attempting to combat Taliban propaganda.
said American troops stationed in central Asia will
remain mostly off-limits to U.S. reporters because leaders
in countries there worry that publicity could cause political
Dow Jones is merging
the news operations of its two Asian publications, The
Asian Wall Street Journal newspaper and the Far Eastern
Economic Review weekly magazine.
website will be used for the first time to augment
a feature that appears in the Nov. 26 edition of the magazine.
The special feature, called "The New Future,"
is the result of a Fortune conference held in Aspen in August.
The American Assn.
for Cancer Research, headquartered in Philadelphia,
will start a journal to disseminate important findings for
preventing and curing cancer. Daniel Von Hoff, M.D., is
editor-in-chief of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.
CMP Media's Web
Techniques magazine will become New Architect,
beginning with the March 2002 issue. The new monthly publication
will be aimed at technology leaders who are "architecting"
their organizations' e-business foundations, said Amit Asaravala,
who is editor-in-chief.
CHANG NAMED EXEC. EDITOR OF
Stephanie Chang was named executive editor of PC Magazine.
She was previously founding editor of the now-defunct newspaper
magazine supplement, Access, which covered the 'Net/personal
Chang joins executive editors Ben Gottesman and Stephanie
Izarek in leading the editorial operations of the magazine,
which is published 22 times a year and continuously on the
web by Ziff-Davis Media.
has resigned as executive director of the Society of Professional
Journalists and its fund-raising Sigma Delta Chi Foundation
for unspecified reasons. Julie
Grimes, Gray's deputy, was named acting executive
director while the group conducts a national search for
editor-in-chief of Pharmaceutical Executive magazine,
will give an address at the Pharamaceutical Industry Conference,
sponsored by The Wall Street Transcript, that will take
place Dec. 6 at The Princeton Club in New York.
has written his last "Radio Listener" column for
The Washington Post. He will join the Post's financial
section next month.
24, formerly senior photographer at Surfing magazine,
was named photo editor of Time4 Media's TransWorld Surf
magazine, located in Oceanside, Calif. Taras will also run
the magazine's new photo agency.
a financial columnist for the past six years at The New
York Observer, a weekly paper, is joining The New
news continued on next page)
Edition, November 21, 2001, Page 4
BLOOMBERG MADE FORTUNE IN
Mike Bloomberg, the mayor-elect
of New York City, made his $4 billion fortune by creating
a financial information service that he built into a major
provider of financial news and information.
Bloomberg, a Republican,
started his company in 1981 after he was fired from Salomon
Bros. He ran the company for several years in the basement
of his Princeton, N.J., home, near where the company's main
news operation is now based.
In 1989, he got Merrill
Lynch to buy a 30% stake by selling the brokerage firm,
whose president at that time also lived in Princeton, on
a simple concept: Instant access to financial data on traders'
desks anywhere in the world.
To sell his Bloomberg
data boxes, he started a financial news service called Bloomberg
News. Then he branched into TV and radio-Bloomberg Television
and Bloomberg Radio.
Bloomberg, who remains
CEO and retains a 72% stake in the company, Bloomberg L.P.,
has not said what he will do with his share or the CEO title.
There were reports that the company may be sold, or he may
put his ownership in a blind trust.
Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief
of Bloomberg News, said there "will have to be much
greater scrutiny on our part just to make sure there is
no potential for the appearance of conflict. Every word,
every headline, the order of every paragraph will be scrutinized."
CEO IMAGE ANALYZED AT PR FORUM
Stanton Crenshaw Communications
hosted a forum on Nov. 12 on "Communicating from the
Top: Lessons from Today's Leaders."
The panel consisted of
Carol Hymowitx, senior editor of The Wall Street Journal;
Lalia Rach, associate dean of NYU's Tisch Center; Sari Kalin,
senior editor of Darwin magazine, and Martin Jones,
the former CEO of Allied Domecq Spirits USA.
Garrett Glaser, CNBC's
advertising/marketing reporter, who moderated the discussion,
said "the question of whether a company's public image
should be synonymous with that of its CEO is of growing
concern in an uncertain business and economic environment."
Glaser said: "Certain
CEOs, like Bill Gates and Jack Welch, have enjoyed success
through close identification with their companies. On the
other hand, I've interviewed executives whose poor communication
skills adversely affect their company's image and can obscure
a strong business story."
Kalin said executives
who adopt an aggressive stand often end up bashing the competition
or making up defensive answers for tough questions.
"As a result, they
can appear agitated and directionless, which is the last
message a CEO should be sending in tough economic times,"
According to a survey
commissioned by Stanton Crenshaw prior to the forum, an
executive's delivery is just as important as the message
More than 70% of respondents
said communication "skills and style" influenced
their perceptions of a leader's competence. When asked which
business and world leaders were excellent communicators,
respondents ranked Bill Gates and John F. Kennedy first,
and Lee Iacocca and George W. Bush second in their respective
The forum also addressed
the recent political successes of some corporate leaders,
such as New York mayor-elect Mike Bloomberg. There was agreement
among the panel members that a CEO or businessperson's image
offers more credibility with voters than that of many career
The panel also discussed
the importance of proactive senior officer communications
as a "business-as-usual" tactic, not just in times
"At a time when CEOs are often treated as-and expected
to present themselves like-celebrities, those who aren't
natural communicators need to make quick adjustments to
meet these inflated expectations," said Alex Stanton,
CEO of the PR firm.
as experts, is to help executives prepare and develop the
communications skills they need to be effective, without
changing who they are or hiding the qualities that got them
where they are today."
'CELEBRITY CEOs' KNOCKED BY
Jim Collins, co-author of "Built to Last: Successful
Habits of Visionary Companies," a national bestseller
for five years, says in The Conference Board's new Annual
Report "There is no more corrosive trend to the health
of our organization than the rise of the celebrity CEO."
Collins, whose new book is "Good to Great: Why Some
Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't," notes
that some of the greatest CEOs in the last 40 years are
relatively unknown. "The leaders in our study quietly
went about building greatness step by step, without much
fanfare or hoopla, while generating extraordinary results
by any standard," said Collins.
He cites Darwin Smith of Kimberly-Clark as a major example
of a CEO who shunned any attempt to shine the spotlight
on him, preferring instead to direct attention to the company
and its people.
In contrast, the comparison leaders in Collins' study-people
like Al Dunlap of Scott Paper-garnered vastly more attention.
Some of the comparison CEOs became wealthy celebrities-covers
of magazines, best-selling autobiographies, massive compensation
packages-despite the fact that their long-term results failed
to measure up to the quiet, unknown CEO.
The Conference Board
has posted a complete listing of economic and business
experts on its website at www.conference-board.org/whoweare/mediacontacts.cfm.
Edition, November 21, 2001, Page 7
is being questioned at a greater level in the wake of the
Sept. 11 attacks, but it's far from dead, David Drobis,
chairman of Ketchum and chairman of the Int'l Communications
Consultancy Organization, told the "Global Summit"
meeting of ICCO in San Francisco last week.
addressing about 140 principals of PR firms from 22 countries,
said the globalization movement needs the assistance of
PR in order to reposition itself.
PR must move away from "relationship building,"
which has occupied the profession for the past few years,
and shift to "confidence building."
the "New Global Imperative for PR" is "Confidence
Building to Save Globalization."
events of the past two months have challenged our profession
like never before.
so many ways," he continued, "it is hard to imagine
another time when communications in all of its dimensions
was in such dire need. One could argue that we're in a global
communications crisis and this summit should mark a major
turning point for us."
attacks accelerated the recession that was already under
way and has led to "extensive corporate retrenchments,"
said Drobis, who addressed the three-day conference at the
Westin St. Francis Hotel.
clients cutting costs, PR has been negatively impacted,"
Predicted End of Globalization
that Morgan Stanley chief economist Stephen Roach recently
wrote in the Financial Times of London that certain
forces may bring about "the demise of globalization."
that the disruption to the international flow of goods and
services caused by the terrorist attacks amounts to a "terrorist
tax" that will boost the cost of doing business for
multinationals and, "may bring about the demise of
that there was a wave of globalization in the 1920s but
it was brought to a halt by the Depression and a renewed
outbreak of war.
is powerful stuff and certainly gives one pause," commented
real tragedy," he said, "is that globalization,
while flawed in many respects, is a force for good, benefiting
business and the world at large."
JACKSON HONORED BY INSTITUTE
Pat Jackson, longtime leader of the PR industry and PR Society
of America, was posthumously given the Alexander Hamilton
Career Achievement Award of the Institute for PR at its
annual dinner Nov. 15 in the University Club. He died March
Isobel Parke Jackson, his former wife and partner in Jackson,
Jackson & Wagner, Exeter, N.H., accepted the award in
his behalf. It was presented by Ward White, VP, Northwestern
Parke said the longtime PR counselor, a student of history,
would have especially liked receiving an award named after
one of the Founding Fathers of the country.
She described Jackson's belief that the purpose of PR
was to bring about changes in behavior in target audiences.
She called him "an incredibly disciplined person"
who had boundless energy.
Jackson, who was president of PRSA in 1980, had led a
revolution in the electoral process of PRSA that shifted
power from New York to across the nation. He said power
would never again return to New York, which had dominated
the Society during its first few decades.
Some members of the Institute thought it ironic that Jackson,
who had opposed the Institute breaking away from PRSA in
1990, should now get the highest award of the group.
The IPR split with PRSA on the issue of accreditation.
PRSA demanded that all directors of the IPR be APR and the
IPR complained that this made it impossible to recruit the
directors that it wanted. Paul Alvarez, who was then the
president of Ketchum, led the insurrection.
PRSA, embittered by the revolt, set up a new non-profit
group (the PRSA Foundation).
Gives Annual Lecture
Bill Novelli, executive director/CEO of AARP,gave the
annual Institute Lecture, describing problems and opportunities
of America's aging population.
One-half of AARP's 35 million members still work, he noted,
which led to the group changing its name to initials only,
from American Assn. of Retired Persons, thus avoiding use
of the word "retired."
There are 77 million "Baby Boomers" (those between
46-64) and they have "an attitude," he said.
Their main concerns are their earnings, Social Security,
savings and health insurance, he said.
Rising healthcare costs are one of their biggest worries,
AARP advises aging Americans to remain active. Worksite
wellness and exercise programs are becoming increasingly
popular, Novelli said.
PNI TAKES EFFEXOR FROM EDELMAN
Porter Novelli International has snatched Wyeth-Ayerst's
Effexor XR antidepressant from Edelman PR Worldwide. A W-A
executive confirmed the switch, but would not say why it
Effexor competes with industry leader Paxil, which is
produced by GlaxoSmithKline. It is targeted at the eight-to-22
million Americans who are said to be suffering from "generalized
Edelman had planned a "Goodbye Anxiety Days"
PR program for Effexor. It was to be a "light-hearted
program" to "educate the public about the difference
between every day anxiety and GAD."
Edelman reassessed the "appropriateness" of
the campaign following the Sept. 11 attacks. The planned
10-city media tour was trashed.
Susan Isenberg, Edelman's EVP/managing director/ healthcare
worldwide, headed the Effexor account.
Edition, November 21, 2001, Page 8
out of Grand Central Terminal in New York last week,
we couldn't help but notice a nearly block-long outdoor
display ad featuring the face of an attractive young woman
with her tongue out and a giant picture of someone's tongue.
At first we thought this
was some kind of fashion ad but then we saw the word "cancer"
and we knew the "health terrorists" had struck
This is the fourth major
current ad campaign featuring the word "cancer."
The others are by Sloan-Kettering, America's Pharmaceutical
Cos., and Novartis.
Americans are barraged
with warnings about dreadful diseases that can afflict them.
The newsweeklies regularly have cover stories and special
sections devoted to diseases and Time mag once turned
over an entire issue to a drug advertiser.
The May 6 New York
Times magazine combed the world for rare and horrible
diseases and came up with "brain fag," "hyperstartle
syndrome" and "fatal familial insomnia,"
among many others. This won it 17 full pages of drug ads.
The floodgates for this
healthcare pornography were opened when the Government let
drug companies pitch prescription drugs directly to the
public. No media will dare complain about this promotional
pestilence since so many ad dollars are involved.
The American Dental Assn.
campaign, bankrolled by Oralscan, which makes a diagnostic
tool, is running in outdoor media in 10 other major cities.
PR is via Manning, Selvage & Lee.
Our gripe is that the
level of terror and anxiety on the streets of New York is
already high enough in the wake of 9/11. The atmosphere
around Grand Central (National Guard, streets blocked off,
concrete barriers, pictures of the victims of 9/11, etc.),
is frightening enough without a giant billboard in poor
taste publicizing a disease that will strike 30,000 Americans
this year out of a population of 281 million.
which monitors the
media for anti-Israel pieces, is drawing attention
to an article in the November Atlantic by P.J. O'Rourke
that is flagged on the cover as a report from Israel "on
the triumph of normalcy over terror." Honestreporting
had blasted a first-person report in Harper's on
conditions in Palestine by Chris Hedges of the New York
Times as "vile" and "anti-Israel."
O'Rourke visited Israel
in April and found that life was mostly normal except for
an obvious decline in tourism, plenty of soldiers in the
streets carrying weapons, and traffic jams resulting from
the hostilities (bottlenecks on Routes 2 and 4 along the
coast). His guide, a retired Israeli colonel, told him,
"Our worst enemy is CNN." O'Rourke, in an editor's
note in the front of the magazine, said he finished the
article on Sept. 10 and after what happened on Sept. 11,
had some second thoughts about it. "I didn't want the
article to be published. It wasn't grim enough," he
New York Financial Writers' Assn.'s "Follies"
Nov. 16 was a subdued event in recognition of the
9/11 disaster that hit Wall Street so hard. The black tie
audience of 870 (off 30% from last year's crowd of (1,250)
sang "America the Beautiful" and the first number
had the tune and theme of "Pick Yourself Up."
Budget reductions were evident (no TV screens in the audience).
The cast was in black tie, reflecting the subdued mood but
also saving money on costumes. Morgen-Walke, which had 14
tables last year, only had six this year. Biggest turnout
(at $3,000 a table) was by Burson-Marsteller, which bought
eight tables. Bloomberg took four; Citigate (Dewe Rogerson
and Sard Verbinnen), three; and two each for Hullin Metz,
Weber Shandwick and The Dilenschneider Group. The show was
a brief 45 minutes, leaving plenty of time for networking.
The route of the Taliban
last week showed how out-of-touch the media were in their
dire predictions about the war in Afghanistan. The Taliban
were portrayed as fierce warriors ready to die for their
fanatical religious beliefs and their benefactor and mass
murderer/drug-runner Osama bin Laden. A steady drumbeat
of stories told how bombing would never work. A massive
deployment of ground troops was the only way to smoke `em
out of the hills and caves of Afghanistan, said the crackerjack
pundits. And just as the word "quagmire" (e.g.,
as in Vietnam) began popping up in reports, the Taliban
tally-hoed in utter retreat. What about those civilian casualties
that the media expected after they were escorted to various
bomb damaged targets by their Taliban hosts? It turns out
there weren't many, according to Patrick Tyler, in the
New York Times Nov. 14.
Jumps into the Saudi
PR frying pan. Qorvis Comms. is the latest PR firm enlisted
by Saudi Arabia to burnish its soiled image. When the U.S.
gets finished with bin Laden and the Taliban, it should
turn its attention to our fairweather ally, Saudi Arabia.
The royal family has "laughed off" any effort
to democratize the country, wrote Michael Kramer in the
New York Daily News on Nov. 15. His view is that
the Saudis are "living on borrowed time." Sooner
or later, they will face their own Taliban. Saudi Arabia
hired Burson-Marsteller three days following the terror