Siliconcowboy's Blog

Technology, journalism, social media and social responsibility

A New Low for Public Relations Practitioners

The ongoing intentional disruption of the President’s “Town Hall” meetings on health care reform are fomented, in large part, by well-financed, industry-backed conservative public relations strategists who have centered their massive communications efforts on several fear-based distortions or outright lies regarding health care reform. 

No effort is being made to encourage reasonable debate; instead, the program is entirely designed to incite disruption and chaos, at the least.  At worst, it could re-ignite the simmering hatred of fringe lunatics who are capable of far greater damage.  The disruptions have already resulted in at least one riot and several other acts of violence. 

Any responsible conservative or GOP official, right-leaning political journalist or analyst would issue a call for calm and rational discourse. Instead, however, nationally recognized conservative talk show hosts and personalities have actually wratched up the vitriol hoping, it would seem, that defeat of the health reform effort will translate to votes in the 2010 elections. 

In some situations, calls for civil disruption are understandable.  Rarely have we seen such calls organized by well-financed front groups using paid public relations professionals, but it does happen.

However, this case is extreme.  The calls to action are intermingled, intentionally and with clear foresight, with demonizing and references to Hitler and Nazis — clear signals to fringe activists, who are already shouting, emailing, twittering and calling public servants with death threats and encouraging others with suggestions to take arms.  This can only lead to regretable results which any thinking conservative can well imagine. 

I appeal to sensible public relations practitioners in, and outside of the political sphere to make your voices heard, and help our colleagues behind these campaigns to understand exactly how far beyond the bounds of ethical public relations they have walked. They leave a blazing trail of accountability, should anything more sinister develop.

3 comments on “A New Low for Public Relations Practitioners

  1. Nancy McCampbell
    August 8, 2009

    Excellent! But you are far too kind. I am going to follow your Blog now, if you don’t mind! Thanks for sharing it with me.

    I have one too, but it is all about my Mother, & Alzheimers Outreach, and Education.

  2. christianliberal
    August 8, 2009

    Good analysis: Thanks.

    Here’s how I respond to them:

    If you don’t know who Rick Scott is then you don’t know who is duping you. This is the false prophet. Scott is the money-changer you let into your temple. Scott is a big health care CEO (whose company by the way was fined $1.7 billion for fraud) who is financing the disruption of the town hall meetings. He is the temptor who has cause you to stumble into the gospel of hatred for your fellow man. His “salvation” (money) is to get you to server corporate profits instead of your fellow man.

    One Master said “Feed my sheep,” “As ye do to the least of these my brothers, you do unto me.” Perhaps you can appreciate how that would be served by universal health care?
    The other “master” says, “shout them down,” and “voice your anger.” Does that really serve your mission to be the spreader of the Good News?

    I truly feel sorry for good-hearted people who have been drawn into the hatred of political extremism and who honestly think they are serving Christ, when in fact they are serving corporate lobbyists. What a shame!

    Check it out:

  3. dwaggoner
    August 9, 2009


    I posted this comment on your LinkedIn Discussion post, too.

    Here’s my take on the Town Hall disruptions. The people creating the disruptions cannot stand up to any reasonable and rational Code of Ethics. Something else is happening: a strategy designed by those opposing the current administration to destabilize any public consensus, in this case, about health care reform, to deliberately intensify the polarization of the political positions, and to make legislating change, if not increasingly difficult, but to collapse altogether.

    What the opponents fail to comprehend, however, is how this strategy affects them:

    The core of political spin and distortion is the deliberate manufacturing of false equivalences. But it is an addictive cause, and those whose who use it must continuously escalate their means to meet their ends. They call it adaptive tactics, but it is really just tolerance, demanding always a greater radicalization of their methods to create the high they crave.

    With each successive campaign fix, the restraints of civility and the law are loosened. The ideals of the cause are lost in the need for the high. The truth is long forgotten and scorned. It is not suffrage, nor protest against injustices, nor even revolution against tyranny. It is addiction, the distortion of reality now driving the purveyors themselves with no rational control, to a certain and devastating destruction.

    True freedom of speech requires all sides listening to their opponents with respect and civility. My fear is we are seeing that freedom disintegrating before our very eyes. The distance from activist, to cult, to mob is only a few short steps when one is addicted to disruptive rage.

    Dr. David Waggoner, PhD
    Oregon, 1981, 2002

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This entry was posted on August 8, 2009 by in Art of Communication and tagged , , , , , .
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