"'Gotcha' Without a 'Get'" - Matthew Felling - CBS News

Byline: Matthew Felling; 2007-06-28; CBS News; 

Report: Undercover Journalism Debated

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"A tempest in the sweltering DC teapot has developed this past week with regards to an investigative report in the upcoming issue of Harper's. Ken Silverstein, Harper's Washington Editor, has a piece called "Their Men In Washington" that is causing some consternation in the media circles … Or at least along those mediaphiles that aren't obsessing over a certain former jailbird. In order to expose the depths and depravity of Washington, D.C.'s lobbyist community, Ken Silverstein decided to get … creative. Here's how he describes it in his own words: My story in the July issue of the magazine details how two beltway lobby shops I approached, on the pretense that I represented a shady London-based energy firm with a stake in Turkmenistan, proposed to whitewash the image of that country's Stalinist regime. He whipped up some business cards, made a website, assumed a name and began the PR courtship process with the firms APCO Worldwide and Cassidy & Associates. His article (unfortunately available only to subscribers) is a fairly by-the-numbers accounting of the back and forth he engaged in with the lobby shops, which – it would be generous to say – were rather forgiving about Turkmenistan's less savory practices. Silverstein found, unsurprisingly, that it seemed they wanted to work with him. He found that they were willing to organize tours for convincible politicians. He found that they proposed a rather typical media strategy, including op-ed placements and other attempts to generate news items about Turkmenistan. He found that they were available to do what we already know they do for clients – occasionally tuck their conscience in the attic for a check."

Description:A criticism of Silverstein's Harper's piece on lobbyists in DC.

Rights: Access to online material.