CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen took some ugly shots at the PR profession with his commentary on "CBS Sunday Morning" this weekend about Scott McClellan's new book: "There is nothing funny about this past week's revelations that former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan lied to the American people about certain vital policy decisions within the Bush Administration… But in every tragic drama comes a moment of comedic Zen. And in L'Affair McClellan, that has come from the public relations community, where some now wonder whether the former flack violated the 'ethics' of his craft. Apparently, an industry the very essence of which is to try to convince people that a turkey is really an eagle has a rule that condemns lying."
He continues: "The Public Relations Society of America states: 'We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent…' This clause strikes me as if the Burglars Association of America had as its creed 'Thou Shalt Not Steal.' Show me a PR person who is 'accurate' and 'truthful,' and I'll show you a PR person who is unemployed.
"The reason companies or governments hire oodles of PR people is because PR people are trained to be slickly untruthful or half–truthful. Misinformation and disinformation are the coin of the realm, and it has nothing to do with being a Democrat or a Republican," Cohen asserted.
PRSA chairman and CEO Jeffrey Julin fired back at Cohen and CBS in a letter this week, claiming Cohen unfairly challenged the integrity of the industry.
So what was PRSA saying in 2003, when it might have made a difference?
Victoria Clarke Named 'PR Professional of the Year' By PRSA; Former Department of Defense Spokesperson to Speak At Society's Int'l Conference.
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has named former Department of Defense spokesperson and current CNN political analyst Victoria Clarke as the Society's 2003 "PR Professional of the Year." Clarke will receive the award on Monday, October 27 at the Society's 2003 International Conference in New Orleans.
PRSA's Public Relations Professional of the Year Award honors the very best public relations work for...
I want to ask Jeffrey Julin and the entire executive board if they are proud of the award the gave to Clarke for her role in deceiving our country into war. This is one of the reasons I let my membership in PRSA lapse. We should have called Clarke out on her lies, not rewarded them.
The fact is that our industry played a hideous role in the events that led up to the disastrous Iraq war and we have yet to come to grips with it.