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October 26, 2009
Where Were the Watchdogs at the Press Club?

We keep thinking about the fake press conference The Yes Men, a Washington activist group, held last week at the National Press Club to twit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for opposing climate change legislation. A supposed spokesman for the U.S. Chamber (actually one of the Yes Men) announced that the business group had changed their stance and was supporting the legislation to combat global warming.

The ruse was revealed when an actual spokesman for the U.S. Chamber learned about the hoax and arrived on the scene to expose the farce. By then, several reporters had already filed stories on the U.S. Chamber's about face. All the real media folks at the sham press conference had taken it seriously.

That's what puzzles and amazes us. Are procedures at the National Press Club, "the world's leading professional organization for journalists," so loose that anybody can rent a room there to twit whomever they want? Are the national media so thinly spread these days that they don't know who's who at organizations they purport to cover? Rhetorical questions, maybe, but dismaying ones for what was a journalistic travesty. Even the fakers at the Yes Men were losers on the eve of their movie release.

No way whatever to protect a basic American institution, the press conference.



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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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