Corn Farmers Against Google?
That anti-Net Neutrality op-ed you read by a respected author? How do you know he wrote it? That grassroots organization of plain folks you hadn’t ever heard of, all suddenly galvanized for a cause that, if not attained, has dire, dire consequences for everyone? How do you know it’s a real organization?
How do you know the organization, and the op-ed, weren’t created by LawMedia Group at the behest of some well-funded clients? If they did their jobs right, you don’t know.
Some of them have left digital fingerprints here and there, though, says Declan McCullagh, in a blockbuster of a report exposing the intellectual whoredom offered for various important issues. Shortly after Microsoft hired LawMedia, for example, legislators, national agencies, and news outlets received pointed complaints from coalitions of farmers, rural voters, and geeky Latinos about how Google’s advertising deal with Yahoo would wreck everything.
That respected and long-time telecom critic who suddenly changed his position on Net Neutrality and network management to more closely match the viewpoints of Comcast? Guess whose staffers probably wrote it. Probably only through sheer authorial laziness did portions of Mel King’s scathing anti-FCC editorial in the Harvard Crimson match Jesse Jackson’s scathing anti-FCC statement issued by the Rainbow Coalition three months earlier.
Plagiarism? Not if the same author wrote both statements. McCullagh makes a strong case that King didn’t actually write the op-ed ascribed to him. (It’s okay—some say the Pentateuch is pseudopigraphically attributed to Moses, and if that’s okay with God, it’s okay for lobbying firms rights?) As for Jackson, there seem to be a few statements floating around out there that he never actually said, and at least one he denies outright.
On its website, LawMedia says it has a longstanding policy of not disclosing its clients, and only describes them as "top Fortune 100 companies in the fields of telecommunications, media, aerospace and other industries."
They’re also not forthcoming about who works there except to say some have served as Chief Counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment of a sitting president, or as counsel to leading companies on a slew of issues. They have a team of researchers and investigators and, apparently, writers, for any type of strategic communication needed, liberal or conservative, corporate or nonprofit.
And if you need to get news out, they’ve got a "shoulder to shoulder" relationship with key media figures, and can get those op-eds placed pretty much anywhere you like.
Don’t call them a PR firm or a lobbying firm though, Law Media – which has a ton of lawyers working for them too—is a "public affairs firm" specializing in producing "remarkable coalitions" for anything one might need a coalition for.
Heck, I bet if you and I decided we need a Coalition of Hooters Girls for Topless Grocery Shopping, we could get us one. I’m a little short on change, so, uh, while I provide the brains of the operation—or allow LawMedia to—you might need to provide the material support.