Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Starting A Trend, Lobbying Firm Creates "Home-Made" Anti-Gore Web Video

The video "Al Gore's Penguin Army" belittles the threat of global warming and makes fun of the former vice president. It quickly found a fan base -- especially among conservatives -- with its "home-made, humorous quality."

But the video wasn't home-made. According to an Aug. 3 story in the Wall Street Journal, the filmmaker's e-mail links him to "DCI Group, a Washington, D.C., public relations and lobbying firm whose clients include oil company ExxonMobil.

Coincidence? Probably not.

The Journal noted that people Googling "Al Gore" or "Global Warming" were led to ads promoting the video -- until the Journal contacted DCI.

DCI declined to say whether it made the video, although the Journal noted that DCI's Tech Central Station website has "sought to raise doubts about the science of global warming and about Mr. Gore's film." An ExxonMobil spokesperson said the company did not fund or approve the video.

Regardless of the ethics, lobbyists are always looking for a way to create a buzz around their causes. So it should come as no surprise that industry players are saying that political operatives, lobbyists and ad agencies will increasingly plant amateur-looking videos on websites like YouTube to shape public opinion. AT&T, for example, is using YouTube to post videos against net neutrality.

Pretty soon, people won't know when they are viewing an independent opinion, vs. a corporate or politically motivated message. Scary.

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