Lobbyist's lexicon

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This stub is a work-in-progress by the ScienceCorruption.com journalists's group. We are indexing the millions of documents stored at the San Francisco Uni's Legacy Tobacco Archive [1] With some entries you'll need to go to this site and type into the Search panel a (multi-digit) Bates number. You can search on names for other documents also.     Send any corrections or additions to editor@sciencecorruption.com

Lobbyists and executive manipulators all appreciate the power of the word -- as do politicians and party-hacks, and also the more sophisticated activists and citizens groups who rail against them. This means that the invention and propagation of loaded-terms, catch-phrases, and especially brands and labels, is of central importance in influencing public opinion. (... among the 'influence peddlers' ... a term always used against opponents.)

The 14 million documents now in the Legacy library at San Francisco University means that we can now trace the invention, development, refinement, amplification and spread of terms like these over five decades. The library deals, not only with the tobacco industry, but with the letters/memos and published material of the professional public-affairs practitioners, advertising specialists, lobbyists ... and the journalists who mimicked and amplified their message. There is no one more easy to con with a cute term than a journalist looking for a catchy line or phrase with which to colour his/her story.

Terms like these are rarely tied to just one industry because they get their effect by the spread and value of the generalisation.



Branding science which doesn't support your position as 'junk' has been highly successful, partly because people are disillusioned with constant ridiculous and over-the-top claims of scientific support, often made by corporate promoters on entirely spurious grounds. There is a lot of junk-science around; the question is who is appropriate to do the branding. Philip Morris asked its own PR company. APCO, to look at this idea, and they created an pseudo-organisation known mainly by its abbreviation TASSC (The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition).

Initially they hired ex New Mexico governor Garrey Curruthers to front the organisation (a quite ridiculous choice) but they quickly hired a professional lobbyist Steven J Milloy who was then working through the EOP Group. Milloy garnered support from industries other than tobacco -- and APCO quickly brought the chemical (Chemical Manufacturer's Association) and pesticides (SOCMA) into the fold; they had problems with the dioxin/Agent Orange issue. Milloy himself was an inspired choice as a larrikin critic over the internet. He had a touch of PJ O'Rourke's conservative humour, and he had the writing skills of Michael Gough (who may have been hired as his ghost-writer).

His targets were critics of smoking and drinking, and especially those related to pesticides and herbricides. He quickly found a television spot on Fox News, which had the correct conservative/corporate stance, and Fox was owned and controlled by Rupert Murdoch who was both a board member of Philip Morris, and a personal friend of the three top executives of the company.

TASSC was also a major force in opposing health and environmental activism because of the new media force, the internet. It was the ideal medium for this form of one-eyed pro-corporate propaganda; Milloy ridiculed and rejected virtually every concern being circulated by health and environmental activists. And since many of these concerns were often overstated, his task was often easy. He promoted both the terms 'junk-science' and the opposite term, 'sound science', and Milloy and TASSC were the arbiters of which was which. "Junk science' is any research that attacks the interests of the sponsors; 'sound science' is the propaganda their employed scientist and PR agents generate.

climate ??


Sick Building Syndrome

Sick Building Syndrome became such a catch-phrase within the tobacco lobbying community that it was often simply referred to by its abbreviation, SBS. It was an extension of the 'sick buildings' reference and 'tight building syndrome' which seems to have been first use in public by Theodor D Sterling, a major tobacco industry lobbyist from Canada. However there is no doubt as to who took it up as "Sick Building Syndrome" and popularised as the central message among the IAQ testing companies. Gray Robertson the major air-testing lobbyist used it constantly to promote his ACVA and Healthy Buildings International businesses and his competitors all followed. It was quickly taken up by the media and the unions (with some help from tobacco bribes) and was widely accepted as a fact, rather than a slogan.

Like all lobbyist lexicon phrases, these terms work best when there is an element of truth that can be identified to confound casual critics. The facts behind Sick Building Sydrome is the outbreak of Legionairre's Disease at a veterans conference in Philadelphia in 1975 where a few of the oldest and weakest of the smokers died; the disease is a form of pneumonia. It is also found in water-towers used to cool air in the old air-conditioners. This gave the tobacco industry all it needed to promote the idea that the nusea experience was not caused by cigarettes, but rather by a curable disease. It worked.


The term hides a few implications which exist at a lower level to the scare tactics employed by the tobacco and chemical industries in their promotion of Sick Building Syndrome which carried elements of possible epidemics of Legionnaire's Disease.

The term 'tight building' hid the real cause of the problem -- the fact that there were many smokers smoking in an office, with no thought of the comfort of the non-smokers. Tight-building, shifted the blame from the building to its manager, In the 1970s these managers was facing the enormous burden of increased costs of cooling and heating rented buildings brought about by the Arab oil embargo and the rapid escallation in energy costs. They handled this surreptitiously by reducing the rate of air exchange between the indoor circulated air, and the outsides -- resulting, inevitably, in daily rising levels of the noxious gases ... even if the smoke particulates could be removed by efficient filtration.

Tight-building syndrome was, in many cases therefore, not an unwarranted claim. But, as always happens, the companies then began to brand every case of non-smokers' rebelling against the levels of passive smoking. Theodor Sterling who seems to have invented and popularised the term, then raised the ante and began to talk about 'sick buildings'. This was taken up by the main IAQ testing companies and lobbyists working for the Tobacco Institute, Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds.

Risk Assessment/Risk Analysis

From the viewpoints of big corporations the terms Risk Assesment, Risk Analysis. and Risk Management all carry the weight of scientific evaluation and logical progression. But who does the assessment? Who analyses the data? And who directs the management?

Risk has always been assessed and analysed in all potentially dangerous situations. If the field of investigation is new, prudent risk managers use the "precautionary principle"; they don't create the possibility of injury through setting levels far beyond known limits. Management of risk is what health and environmental regulation is all about. So the value of these related terms is simply that they sound scientific -- almost as if they express "the bleedin' obvious." Everyone is tempted to say: of course risk needs to be estimated, analysed and managed if there is any significant risk of harm.

The development of risk ideas of this kind became almost an ideology.

What lay behind this was a joint project of chemical companies (initially) followed by tobacco and other industries. The area had previously been populated by professionals from the careing discipline: the medical fraternity, biochemists, those with biomedical expertise. Now the decisions of the levels of pollution, or toxicity was permissable, passed to the mathematicians, the statisticians, and (if we are lucky) to genuine bio-statisticians. They determine the assessment of risk based on standards set by risk managers in the agencies.

Institute for Regulatory Policy CRE Center for Regulatory Effectiveness Thorne G Auchter James J Tozzi and John McRae (Federal Focus, Multinational Business Services)

Economics & Politics

Welfare State

Implication of over funding of welfare 'bums' and lay-abouts

Nanny State

The term was coined by the later advisers to Margaret Thatcher working at the Libertarian think-tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs in London, UK. circa 1965. It is generally credited to Iain Macleod, Keith Joseph and Ralph Harris (Lord Harris of High Cross) Both Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan took it up as a catch-cry to maintain that government policies and regulations were over-protective, interfering with the personal choice of individuals, strangling the ability of corporations to realise their full potential, and leading to welfare lay-abouts who didn't contribute to the general national well-being or productivity. [2]

It was promoted by companies and industries with a poisoning or polluting problem where the consequences included the likelihood of government-imposed regulations. The tobacco industry in particular push the Public-Choice Libertarian Economist's line that smoking was a habit (not an addiction) which people chose themselves to enjoy, and therefore should not be bound by rules and regulations (advertising, sports-sponsorship, etc. also) Their opponents maintained that cigarettes were an addiction, and that non-smokers also suffered from smoke-induced health problems. See ARISE.

Laffer Curve & Trickle-down theory

These terms both resulted from an attempt to justify inequalities in wealth by claiming that the spending of the rich trickle down to the poor, thus justifying the inequality, and that high tax rates on the wealth are unjustified. The consequences of this are (they say) that taxes on the wealthy should not rise beyond a certain point, because the economy will stall and the trickle will then dry up, leading to greater poverty, less government revenue and a depression. When graphed to create a pseudo-impression of scientific rigour behind the claim, this resulted in an arched curve where the peak represented the optimal rate of tax for the greatest government revenue: any rate higher was 'sub-optimal'. [3]

According to conservative lobbyist/author George Gilder, both the term and the accompanying Laffer Curve were invented over a long liquid lunch between himself and Arthur Laffer, a decidedly second-rate supply-side economist. Gilder was then a Republican apparatchik working out of the Discovery Institute while writing "Wealth and Poverty", the economic bible of the Reagan Revolution. The curve was drawn by Laffer on a table napkin and it was used to illustrate the economic principle when explaining the concept to economically illiterate journalists, It was taken up in 1974 by Republican policy makers behind the new President Gerald Ford (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsford and Jude Wanniski) following the resignation of Richard Nixon. They used it to prove that with tax reductions, the economic stimulus generated would lead to a booming economy. [4] [5]

The "trickle-down' side of the explanation came into play in the campaign for Ronald Reagan to replace President Jimmy Carter in 1980. This became the catch-cry of Reaganomics and popular among conservative corporate supporters.