Wendell Potter is the former CIGNA public relations executive who apologized to Michael Moore on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown (video: part 1; part 2) for having orchestrated the smear campaign against Moore’s film Sicko. Although this book focuses principally on corporate PR in the health insurance industry, the techniques of deception that it illuminates are of general applicability. Potter identifies the tobacco industry as the real pioneers of deceptive PR, but the playbook they developed has since been used by the insurance, banking, energy, and junk food industries, among others. The techniques described by Potter include paying professional philosophers to write articles denouncing the “nanny state”; promoting the concept of “junk science”; and hiring blog trolls to post industry-friendly comments and diaries on influential websites such as the Huffington Post, the Daily Kos, and Firedoglake.
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