Someone needs to clue in the editors of our local Gannett fishwrap about a little something called professional sock-puppetry. Because they keep falling for it.
For example, who is this Sarah Longwell person who penned an anti-MADD column for the “Tennessee Voices” section of The Tennessean back in February?
Just another PR professional on the staff of D.C. lobbyist Rick Berman:
Short Bio: Sarah Longwell works in public relations for Berman & Company, listed as the principal media contact for the Center for Consumer Freedom, the Center for Union Facts, and the Indoor Tanning Association. She is also listed as both the managing director and communications director of the American Beverage Institute. Longwell has written many editorial pieces on behalf of these industry-funded front groups and often serves as a media spokesperson. She previously served as the director of communications at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a nonprofit organization that works to spread the conservative message on college campuses.
Of course, this isn’t the first time a Rick Berman PR employee has sock-puppeted for a client in the pages of The Tennessean by hiding behind a non-existent non-profit. Back on December 23, 2009, Kristen Lopez Eastlick slammed the minimum wage increase in an opinion piece in our daily, which identified her as “senior economic analyst at the Employment Policies Institute” (the column has been pulled, but you can read a copy of it here.)
But there is no such organization as the “Employment Policies Institute.” It’s another phony group established by lobbyist Rick Berman, no more than a website. Eastlick, like Sarah Longwell, is an employee of Rick Berman’s. In addition to being the “senior economic analyst at the Employment Policies Institute” she also holds the titles of…
• Chief Administrative Officer, Berman and Company
• Senior Research Analyst, Employment Policies Institute
• Government Affairs Director, Berman and Company
• Government Affairs Director, Center for Consumer Freedom
• Director of State Affairs, American Beverage Institute
• Spokesperson, American Beverage Institute
• Lobbyist, American Beverage Institute
• Chief Administration Officer, American Beverage Institute
• Director of Policy Analysis, Employment Policies Institute
• Spokesperson, Employment Policies Institute
• Economic Analyst, Employment Policies Institute
• Senior Research Analyst, Activist Cash
… in other words, whatever best fits the needs of the moment to better dupe the clueless reporter/opinion page editor/producer, etc. And it’s all on behalf of Berman & Co. clients which include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Philip Morris, Smithfield Foods, Coca-Cola, Wendy’s, Tyson’s Foods, Cargill, and Outback Steakhouse (to name a few).
So, way to go Tennessean. Here’s some advice for you: before you run any “Tennessee Voices” columns from people named Sarah Kapenstein, David Martosko, Trice Whitefield or Tim Miller, you might want to hit the Google.
(h/t, Pylon in comments.)