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Wiley Rein & Fielding

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Wiley Rein & Fielding (WRF) is a law firm with offices in Washington DC and northern Virginia that works in a wide variety of corporate law areas. In February 2007, Fred Fielding left "to become a counselor to President George W. Bush" in the Office of Counsel. The firm is also referred to as Wiley Rein. [1]

Defending fake news

In October 2006, Wiley Rein & Fielding law and lobby firm filed an appeal with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), on behalf of the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA), asking the agency to halt its investigation of 77 television stations found to have aired video news releases (VNRs) without disclosure. [2] [3]

In the RTNDA filing, WRF portrayed the FCC's investigation as "an unprecedented regulatory intrusion into newsroom operations." Information the agency requested of the TV station owners will "consume the time, attention, and energy of innumerable station managers and employees, lawyers and consultants, professional membership and trade association representatives, etc. ... The investigation already has had a chilling effect on the dissemination of newsworthy information to the public," the filing states. Its conclusion opens, "Determining the content of a newscast, including when and how to identify sources, is at the very heart of the responsibilities of electronic journalists, and these decisions must remain far removed from government involvement or supervision." The filing was authored by WRF's Kathleen A. Kirby and Lawrence W. Secrest III. [4]

Interestingly, at least one WRF lawyer's interpretation of the FCC's April 2005 Public Notice on VNRs was substantially different than what the firm's October 2006 filing stated. In early 2005, WRF partner Rosemary Harold told Advertising Age that "What the FCC is saying is if it appears that someone got paid for putting it together and it's run in its entirety, even if furnished free to the stations, then it should be identified" (Ira Teinowitz and Matthew Creamer, "Fake news videos unmasked in FCC crackdown: Forced disclosure of VNR sources deals blow to controversial PR tactic," Advertising Age, April 18, 2005).

Defending drug companies' fake news

In March 1994, WRF authored a brief on behalf of the Media Institute, filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The brief was in support of an earlier Washington Legal Foundation filing, urging the FDA to not regulate pharmaceutical companies' promotion of off-label uses for drugs. "Far from being harmful, drug company distribution of information about off-label uses of their products 'can be a positive force,'" the filing claimed, according to a May 1994 article by James G. Dickinson in Medical Marketing & Media.

While the WRF filing was on behalf of the Media Institute, several other groups supported it, including the "Association of American Publishers (representing most commercial book publishers), the Society of Professional Journalists (representing 13,500 members), the Radio-Television News Directors Association, and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression (a University of Virginia affiliate in Charlottesville, VA, devoted solely to safe-guarding freedoms of speech and press in all forms)," according to Medical Marketing & Media.

The WRF filing "broadens the controversy beyond the mere policy statement that would impact industry-supported scientific and educational activities, to condemn FDA's longer-established policy requiring preclearance of video news releases," reported Medical Marketing & Media. "Boiled down to their essence, the Media Institute's comments would have FDA limit its regulation of medical product promotion to after-the-fact sanctions against proven false-and-misleading statements, as practiced by the Federal Trade Commission, which the Media Institute says 'is far more consistent with First Amendment values.'"

The WRF filing, in part, states, "FDA would have to show that its preclearance of video news releases is necessary to substantially alleviate whatever potentially harmful effects it identifies. With the enormous range of more reasonable remedies available to it, such as disclosures and after-the-fact enforcement, the FDA could not carry the burden imposed upon it by the Constitution and justify its preclearance requirement" (emphasis added).

Indecency issues

WRF has opposed FCC actions and Congressional legislation sanctioning TV and radio stations for broadcasting "indecent" content.

In April 2004, WRF's Kathleen Kirby told Broadcasting & Cable that "while the FCC has generally not focused on news programs for indecent material, local newscasts are now vulnerable. ... Alluding to the NBC-Bono decision, she noted that 'some words are inherently indecent and profane.' Context, she said, has been completely removed from the debate" (Steve McClellan, "Bleepinator Anyone? Stations install protection against on-air indecency," Broadcasting & Cable, April 26, 2004).

Personnel

Founding partners

Other notable partners

The head of its Food and Product Safety division, is Andrew S. Krulwich, the former General Counsul of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.[6]

Other staff

Notable former staff

Clients

WRF's lobbying list

WRF lobbyists registered in 2005 as working on behalf of the RTNDA are Susan Buck, Senior Public Policy Consultant, Bryan Cunningham, Gregg Elias (Partner), Kathleen A. Kirby, Of Counsel, Peter Krug, Public Policy Consultant and Mary Jo Manning, Of Counsel.

The Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives lists WRF as the registered lobbyist, as at October 2006, for: [8]

Contact info

Washington office

1776 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: 202.719.7000
Fax: 202.719.7049

Northern Virginia office

7925 Jones Branch Drive
Suite 6200
McLean, VA 22102
Phone: 703.905.2800
Fax: 703.905.2820
Website:http://www.wrf.com

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles

External articles