So, you represent a country whose leader renamed the month of January after himself? We'll take the job!
June 23, 2007 2:13 PM   Subscribe

"Even the best-endowed regimes need help navigating the shoals of Washington, and it is their great fortune that, for the right price, countless lobbyists are willing to steer even the foulest of ships." Journalist Ken Silverstein poses as a representative of the government of Turkmenistan to see if Washington lobbying firms will take on the job of making a country with a considerably less-than-stellar human rights record more palatable. The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials calls Silverstein's work disingenuous; others disagree.
posted by hifiparasol (14 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
On the last link, you've got to vote in the poll to see the results, but -- spoiler alert -- the answer is overwhelmingly "no."
posted by hifiparasol at 2:14 PM on June 23, 2007

Few care if they are base, they just don't want to appear so.

Pretty sad commentary, and a great deal of what isn't right with the world.
posted by SaintCynr at 2:46 PM on June 23, 2007

This post is a nice complement to the one yesterday about Prof. Lessig's new focus on corruption.
posted by wuwei at 4:04 PM on June 23, 2007

I vote "yes." It was a dumb stunt -- unsavory regimes have lobbyists, we already knew that. And anyway, saying that dictatorships shouldn't have lobbyists seems akin to saying that the US should never have diplomatic contacts with them. That doesn't make much sense to me, personally.
posted by footnote at 4:28 PM on June 23, 2007

"unsavory regimes have lobbyists, we already knew that"

Yes, but Silverstein's piece is very informative in respect to what tools those lobbyists use to defend those unsavoury regimes. There's planted op-eds and payola for journalists and lawmakers. Even more interestingly, there are specific "independent" (and rather important) think tanks (a.o. Heritage Foundation, Council for Foreign Relations) and media ("The Economist") cited. No wonder that some people, some journalists in particular, are outraged at the coverage.

As for me, in the immor(t)al words of Capt. Renault, I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.
posted by Skeptic at 4:43 PM on June 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

This issue of Harper's is pretty good. There is a great article about New Orleans as well.
posted by chunking express at 9:05 PM on June 23, 2007

¡Nice title!
posted by taosbat at 9:31 PM on June 23, 2007

I liked the article. I like to read the fulminations of people who have absolute moral certainty, particularly where it differs from mine.

Nike and Wal-Mart run ads. Serial killers have defense attorneys. People who do bad things have the opportunity to get their side of the story told. And this is bad because - ?
posted by Methylviolet at 10:18 AM on June 24, 2007

Serial killers have defense attorneys

And I also find it outrageous when a rich serial killer can have a better chance in court than a poor innocent man, just because he can afford better attorneys.

I don't have anything against the likes of the Turkmen government getting an opportunity to get "their side of the story told" (even if they usually aren't as generous with their dissidents), but then, that's what embassies are usually for. I have a bit more trouble with paid shills who are less than candid about who's buttering their bread.
posted by Skeptic at 11:24 AM on June 24, 2007

He was interviewed on NPR's Talk of the Nation on this last week.
posted by ibmcginty at 9:14 AM on June 25, 2007

Yes, OK -- they wimped out. Why take the laughable position that the reporter was unethical and that they didn't really want the job anyway? Why not say yes, haha, you got us -- you offered us a truly challenging PR problem and we wanted a crack at it. We were both just doing what we do.
posted by Methylviolet at 9:56 AM on June 25, 2007

Gotta go with Skeptic there.

And I’m reminded of another Casablanca quote - “I don't mind a parasite. I object to a cut-rate one.”
posted by Smedleyman at 11:07 AM on June 25, 2007

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