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Public Affairs

Is the CIA Taking Its Tweeting Too Far?

state of affairsWhen the CIA first joined Twitter, everyone chuckled a bit. But right away, the agency was determined to charm us. Since then, the feed has been a mixture of facts about CIA work and service, history and a joke here and there.

But now it looks like the CIA wants to add to its tweeting repertoire. It’s kind of live tweeting the NBC show State of Affairs. TMZ was in touch with the CIA spokesperson who said the show presented an opportunity “counter popular myths and misconceptions about the Agency …”

Is live tweeting a fictional NBC program (starring Katherine Heigl!) the best way to do that? Probably not.

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Mediabistro Course

Mediabistro Job Fair

Mediabistro Job FairLand your next big gig! Join us on January 27 at the Altman Building in New York City for an incredible opportunity to meet with hiring managers from the top New York media companies, network with other professionals and industry leaders, and land your next job. Register now!

Consultant Caught Telling Energy Execs to Play Dirty If They Want More Fracking

simpsons fracking1Looks like Richard Berman, founder of Berman & Company, a consultancy in Washington DC, got “Romney’d.”

Berman spoke to a group of energy executives at an event in Colorado Springs back in June. During his remarks, he told the executives, they can “either win dirty or lose pretty,” attempting to persuade them to fund an advertising and PR campaign, Big Green Radicals, to the tune of $3 million. For this campaign, Berman was looking to humiliate environmentalists and their celebrity friends with bits of dirt thereby turning the tide in favor of oil and gas companies. Among those in the room were Halliburton and Devon Energy.

“This is an endless war,” he said. “And you have the budget for it.”

And how do we know these comments were made? Because one of the execs in the room didn’t like it. So he recorded it. And gave it over to The New York Times. Busted!

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Why a Lack of Government Transparency in Media Relations Affects Us All

White-House-open

If only this were the case…

Last month, we brought something to our scrolled pages (and thank you, PRNewsers) about the Obama Administration reneging on its promises to be the most transparent in U.S. history. In that post, we shared the petition that various journalism wrote to the White House, advising the administration to cease its “political suppression of the news.”

A week later, the administration did it again, this time locking the press corps out of fundraising events.

All that ballyhoo caused this hack-turned-flack to wonder about the current state of affairs in network news and its relation to government transparency: aimless speculation from various and sundry “expert guests” left with only their opinions in the absence of more reliable sources.

That trend is affecting “We, the People” in very negative ways. Here’s how…

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The FCC Has More Than a Million Net Neutrality Comments to Read

man using computerWith the deadline to file comments passed, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) now has to begin the task of combing through 1,067,779 submissions from the public, a number that the FCC’s head of public engagement Gigi Sohn said is among the highest ever. Many of the comments are said to be angry and filled with foul language.

Reply comments will continue through September 10. New rules are expected by the end of the year.

According to Variety:

Much of the interest appears to have been triggered by the notion that the FCC proposal will be too weak to prevent ISPs from making deals for so-called “paid prioritization,” in which an Internet site could pay to have content like video delivered to a subscriber at a faster speed and better quality. Critics say that “paid prioritization” would lead to a Balkanization of the Internet, in which well-heeled content providers pay for “fast lanes” to gain an advantage.

Some companies like Verizon would be happy to charge companies a little extra for the privilege of having faster speeds.

“Such flexibility to experiment with alternative arrangements not only can reduce costs to end users while allowing them to access the content they demand, but also benefit [Web services] and spur continued investment in broadband infrastructure,” they wrote in a letter to the FCC.

Netflix is not.

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Gov. Chris Christie Previews His Summer Plans With Fake Action Movie Clip

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has released a fake movie trailer to highlight the fiscal issues he plans to focus on during a summer tour of the state. “Rated ‘R’ for “Reform,” the “No Pain. No Gain.” clip includes all of the booming sounds and explosions that you would expect from an action movie, but it’s about the state’s budget.

After Beyonce and Jay Z released a movie trailer for their “On the Run” tour, people were so interested that there was a petition to get the movie made. We’re pretty sure the same thing won’t happen here. Moreover, the movie was already made when it was called Pain & Gain, which is where the Christie team got the footage of The Rock. Still, there’s powerful footage of a New Jersey Transit train going by. Not sure whether to laugh or groan at this one, so we’ll do both.

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Dr. Oz Gets a Warning About His Weight-Loss Recommendations

dr. oz showDr. Oz made an appearance on Capitol Hill yesterday, appearing before the Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance Senate subcommittee and it didn’t go well.

The hearing was focused on the promotion and false advertising of weight loss products on Dr. Oz’s show. The chairwoman of the committee, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, had a serious issue with the products that Dr. Oz has recommended because of the lack of strong science behind them.

“Your credibility is being maligned by fraudsters and frankly being threatened by the notion that anybody can take an itty-bitty pill to push fat out of their system,” said Sen. McCaskill. She also reminded him that he’s a doctor in addition to a celebrity personality, so he has a responsibility to the public.

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Would Better Marketing Help Solve the Student Loan Crisis?

college students walkingStudent loan debt has ballooned to $1.2 trillion, a figure that many say is not only stopping borrowers from purchasing things like homes and cars, but is also hampering the economic growth that comes with those sorts of purchases.

Yesterday, in an effort to try and tackle the problem, President Obama signed an executive order that would cap student loan payments for five million people at 10 percent of their income. There is also already on the books a pay-as-you-go repayment option that is income-based and dependent on when the loan was taken.

“Income-based repayment should prevent many student loan defaults, because borrowers don’t have to make payments if they’re not making money. But the enrollment process right now is complicated and can be hard to navigate. Some policy experts think that income-based repayment should be the automatic way to pay back a student loan,” says Vox.

While there are larger issues wrapped up in all of this, Derek Thompson at The Atlantic notes that these pay-as-you-earn options are good ones. But there aren’t nearly as many people enrolling in them as there should be. Part of the problem: a lack of marketing.

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THIS JUST IN: Cannabis Sales Creating Some High Times for U.S. Business

THIS JUST IN 2If you watch the news, you may recall there was this mild kerfuffle about legalizing the hippie lettuce.

And in Seattle and Denver (where they smoke so much weed that with a good southern and western front, the entire state of Idaho is baked for about 10 days), it was permitted.

People were happy rolling more joints than burritos. Hipsters would sit on the City Hall steps in makeshift Hookah lounges. And the police would just mosey on by, while considering a trip to get some waffles from some reason.

Then, this report from the Marijuana Business Daily (yes, that’s a thing) offers some reasons on why marijuana may be legalized nationwide in a couple of years. In fact, 8 billion of them. Read more

Mayor Rob Ford: When Bad PR Turns Into Reality TV Gold

Rob-FordOn the off-chance you have been stranded on a deserted island or binge viewing on reality TV, you may not have been granted the pleasure to be introduced to Toronto Mayor and professional crack smoker, Rob Ford.

Here he is pictured bringing sexy back … and front … and all around.

Canadian politics is surprisingly comical. First, Rob Ford holds a press conference about his warm pipe ways, then does a media tour about how he has changed his ways, bull rushes a co-worker on closed-circuit TV, yet is still out painting the town a beer-stained tee shirt taupe.

All of this scorched earth behavior hasn’t kicked him out of office with a gavel sticking in his maple leaf. In fact, the city digs him. American talk show hosts love him. And now, reality TV wants a piece of him. 

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7-Year-Old Skewers LEGO For Not Including More Girls

LEGO_LogoRemember when LEGO came under fire for its LEGO Friends line, a collection geared toward girls (finally!), but which abandoned adventurous themes for a pastel color palate, taller and slimmer female minifigures, and cliche female-friendly scenarios like a suburban home, a beauty parlor and a horse stable? Well, despite the toy line being slammed as sexist and pandering (even spawning a hashtag movement to #LiberateLEGO), it has become a huge success.

But not all little girls are satisfied with the domestic-themed options the toy company offers them, and one little girl in particular has decided to make her very dissatisfied voice heard.

Seven-year-old Charlotte took it upon herself to write a strongly-worded letter to LEGO, criticizing the toy company for making more “boy people” than “lego girls,” and for sending boys on fantastic adventures while relegating girls to the mall and the beauty parlor.

The letter read in part:

“My name is Charlotte. I am 7 years old and I have LEGOs, but I don’t like that there are more LEGO boy people and barely any LEGO girls. Today I went to a store and saw LEGOs in two sections…All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs, but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks. I want you to make more LEGO girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun OK?!?”

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