At NPR, 'National Correspondent' Maw-ra Liarsson and Juan 'The Yawn' Williams make obeisance to Fox News. Why shouldn't NPR's Most Serious And Credible Correspondent, Tom Gjeltin, get a piece of the action, too?
Gjeltin is currently doing a 3-part series on natural gas exploitation in the US. He is an evangelist for the newish technique of blow-jobbing millions of gallons of water into stingy shale strata below the Keystoned State (and anywhere else that is eligible within the Homeland), so as to deliver the US from smack-like addiction to heavy oils as pedaled by candymen in hostile countries.
OK, that's a noble cause - on the surface. Who WOULDN'T like to be free of any addiction? Thing is, Gjeltin's angle ain't quite what it seems to be. You see, there are many aspects to this extraction process that make for unpleasant side effects. Naturally. Like, harmful chemicals, seismic side effects, uncertain safety, etc. Stuff like that.
Gjeltin appeared on the Diane Rehm Show this morning, to do a little junketing, supporting the NatGas company men. His appearance on the Rehm show proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he is an advocate for the natural gas industry. Dismissing any sort of criticism as 'anecdotal', Gjelten's embeddedness within the industry is nothing short of blatant. Several of the callers, especially an attorney in Ft. Worth, provided a wealth of contradictions, to which Gjelten responded with restrained huffiness, which says more than words can in these situations.
What's in it for Gjelten? Realistically, I can only speculate that, if it isn't kickbacks, it's the egotistical notion that he can say, down the road, 'I helped save the nation from oil-dealing Antichrists like Hugo Chavez' - or some such.
This is a cardinal example of corporate forces tapping into the NPR networking system. You can imagine in a given board room, the conversation: 'It is imperative that we get NPR in the loop on this. They have some credible-sounding people there who know how to sell a story. Tom Gjelten's got a gravitas that people respect and don't question. Let's give him a call...'
And Gjelten, good, high-level shill that he is, takes up the cause with enthusiasm.
[Superficial note: Gjelten is well within my list of NPR-niks who are officially difficult to listen to. That over-serious, dry voice has 'constipation' written all over it. He should go back to the toilet and finish now what he couldn't finish then.]
In the Rehm show many other issues and concerns about this nouveau gas culling were brought up by other guests and callers, to which Gjelten and the company men stonewalled.
But Gjelten & Co. bank on the fact that the audience who listen in detail to these talk shows are only a fraction of those who catch the PR package on the ME and ATC drive hours. It's all very slick and calculated.
Another Gjeltinism thought: beware those who are aggressively sober in their presentation. The Becks and Coulters are easy for the opposition to brand as 'over the top', while the wily Gjeltins are getting much more done in their quieter 'establishment' ways. Just like Cheney did, all those years before and during his presidency.
And Gjeltin's resume is there for all to see, if we choose. From his NPR bio:
"His new book, Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: A Biography of a Cause (Viking), is a unique history of modern Cuba, told through the life and times of the Bacardi rum family. Since joining NPR in 1982 as labor and education reporter, Gjelten has won numerous awards for his work. His 1992 series "From Marx to Markets," documenting the transition to market economics in Eastern Europe, won an Overseas Press Club award for "Best Business or Economic Reporting in Radio or TV." (quote courtesy of NPR)
Talk about an agenda! I suppose his next book will be: 'Unjustly Ripped Off: How The US Lost Cuba Because Hyman Roth Was Kicked Out'.
(To non-'Godfather' fans: Hyman Roth was a mob leader who was exploiting pre-Castro Cuba via underworld activities. His character was based on multiple real life mobsters. How could Bacardi NOT have been involved??
Finally (for now), a thought on PR technique. During the Rehm show, Gjeltin, in the face of considerable opposition, reverted to the old maxim that Bob Moses used when he was ruthlessly transforming NYC into an automobile-dependent metropolis: 'to make an omelet, you gotta break eggs.'
The dignified Gjeltin didn't use such coarse words of course, but his wussy 'rebuttal' used the same damn theme.
Public Relations is a craft, not an art, and sometimes you don't even need to know how to operate a soldering iron to effect proper attachment of wires in order to make a communication network operative.