$250,000 in PR vs. Peace

Blogging at the Women In Media & News website (10/24/08), Diane Farsetta does her usual outstanding job in exposing the hand of big-time PR in U.S. media.

According to the PR trade publication O’Dwyer’s, the Council for a Democratic Iran spent $300,000 on its new lobbying and PR firm, the Livingston Group, in the third quarter of 2008 alone…. There isn’t a lot of information available about the Council for a Democratic Iran…. But the group’s founder, Dr. Behrooz Behbudi, seems to be aligned with military hawks.

Last year, the Vancouver Sun reported that Dr. Behbudi had “bought $250,000 worth of ads in major North American newspapers denouncing Iran’s Muslim leaders as ‘terrorists’ and ‘fascists,’ and warning they are a direct threat to the U.S. and Canada.” He also referred to the March 2007 arrest of 15 British sailors by Iran as “an act of war.” The Sun noted that Dr. Behbudi is an oil entrepreneur who counts Oliver North and Pat Robertson (who baptized him) among his friends. He is “a high-level figure in the U.S. Republican party,” according to the Sun, who displays pictures of himself with current President Bush and former senator turned lobbyist Bob Dole.

Farsetta contrasts this massive pro-war effort with Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr. Shirin Ebadi’s recent speech that “called on the people of the United States and Iran to continue what she called a historical friendship, dating back to the early 20th century” and “urged us to reject the antagonistic posturing of our governments and engage in people-to-people solidarity.” Calling it “an inspiring and important presentation,” Farsetta notes that “it’s too bad that Dr. Ebadi doesn’t have a high-powered PR firm, to help her really impact U.S. foreign policy.”

Read the FAIR magazine Extra!: “Perilous Journalism in the Persian Gulf: Strait of Hormuz incident’s Uncritical Coverage” (3-4/08) by Isabel Macdonald