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  Hill & Knowlton

Although it is generally hard to distinguish between public relations and propaganda, Hill & Knowlton, the worlds leading PR agency, represents an extraordinary example for the manipulation of public opinion with public relations activities. Hill & Knowlton did not only lobby for countries, accused of the abuse of human rights, like China, Peru, Israel, Egypt and Indonesia, but also represented the repressive Duvalier regime in Haiti.

It furthermore played a central role in the Gulf War. On behalf of the Kuwaiti government it presented a 15-year-old girl to testify before Congress about human rights violations in a Kuwaiti hospital. The girl, later found out to be the daughter of Kuwait's ambassador to the U.S., and its testimony then became the centerpiece of a finely tuned PR campaign orchestrated by Hill & Knowlton and co-ordinated with the White House on behalf of the government of Kuwait an the Citizens for a Free Kuwait group. Inflaming public opinion against Iraq and bringing the U.S. Congress in favor of war in the Gulf, this probably was one of the largest and most effective public relations campaigns in history.

Running campaigns against abortion for the Catholic Church and representing the Church of Scientology, large PR firms like Hill & Knowlton, scarcely hesitate to manipulate public and congressional opinion and government policy through media campaigns, congressional hearings, and lobbying, when necessary. Also co-operation with intelligence agencies seems to be not unknown to Hill & Knowlton.

Accused of pursuing potentially illegal proxy spying operation for intelligence agencies, Richard Cheney, head of Hill & Knowltons New York office, denied this allegations, but said that "... in such a large organization you never know if there's not some sneak operation going on." On the other hand former CIA official Robert T. Crowley acknowledged, that "Hill & Knowlton's overseas offices were perfect 'cover` for the ever-expanding CIA. Unlike other cover jobs, being a public relations specialist did not require technical training for CIA officers." Furthermore the CIA, Crowley admitted, used its Hill & Knowlton connections to "... put out press releases and make media contacts to further its positions. ... Hill & Knowlton employees at the small Washington office and elsewhere distributed this material through CIA assets working in the United States news media."

(Source: Carlisle, Johan: Public Relationships: Hill & Knowlton, Robert Gray, and the CIA. http://mediafilter.org/caq/)

browse Report:
Advertising Industry
-3   Public Relations
-2   PR Firms and their Mission
-1   Public Relations and Propaganda
0   Hill & Knowlton
+1   Public Relations Clients
+2   Public Relations and the Advertising Industry
+3   Cultural Opposition
+4   RTMark and Adbusters at the WTO Conference in Seattle
François Duvalier
b. April 14, 1907, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
d. April 21, 1971, Port-au-Prince

By name PAPA DOC, president of Haiti whose 14-year regime was of unprecedented duration in that country. A supporter of President Dumarsais Estimé, Duvalier was appointed director general of the National Public Health Service in 1946. He was appointed underminister of labour in 1948 and the following year became minister of public health and labour, a post that he retained until May 10, 1950, when President Estimé was overthrown by a military junta under Paul E. Magloire, who was subsequently elected president. By 1954 he had become the central opposition figure and went underground. Duvalier was elected president in September 1957. Setting about to consolidate his power, he reduced the size of the army and organized the Tontons Macoutes ("Bogeymen"), a private force responsible for terrorizing and assassinating alleged foes of the regime. Late in 1963 Duvalier moved further toward an absolutist regime, promoting a cult of his person as the semi divine embodiment of the Haitian nation. In April 1964 he was declared president for life. Although diplomatically almost completely isolated, excommunicated by the Vatican until 1966 for harassing the clergy, and threatened by conspiracies against him, Duvalier was able to stay in power longer than any of his predecessors.