miércoles, 4 de julio de 2007

Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton and Big Tobacco

Mark Penn, CEO of the global PR firm Burson-Marsteller (B-M) and president of the polling firm Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates (PSB), feels misunderstood.

Penn was recently in the news when several union officials expressed concern that Democratic Presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton had hired him as a "key strategic adviser," even though B-M has a specialist unit that advises clients on defeating union campaigns. Not surprisingly, Clinton's campaign shrugged off the criticism, insisting that he is a "vital member of our team." In an email to Atlantic Online, Penn wrote that that he had "never personally done such [anti-labor] work" and insisted that he has "strong personal sympathies with the labor movement." (Why someone who proclaims their pro-labor sympathies would even head up a PR firm that runs an anti-labor unit went unexplained.) Even if one accepts Penn's explanation at face value, it left me wondering who he had worked for.

A little digging reveals that, for well over two decades, both Penn and his opinion polling company have advised the tobacco industry on how to counter the campaigns of the tobacco control movement. Based on internal tobacco industry documents, it is clear that Penn and his colleagues have little personal sympathy for those promoting policies that put public health ahead of the interests of the tobacco industry.

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