Dec 11, 2007

Journo-Lobbyist Glassman to Replace Karen Hughes

Mr. "Dow 36,000" -- James K. Glassman -- is going to be nominated to become the new Public Diplomacy czar, according to a news report.

President Bush intends to name former Washington Post columnist James K. Glassman to lead the State Department's struggling efforts to improve the United States' image abroad, replacing longtime Bush confidante Karen Hughes.

Glassman, now chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the Voice of America, will be named the new undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, administration officials said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the announcement has not yet been made.


Hughes boosted the number of Arabic speakers representing the United States in Arabic media, set up three public relations centers overseas to monitor and respond to the news, and nearly doubled the public diplomacy budget, to almost $900 million annually. Despite her efforts, polls have shown no improvement in the world's view of the United States.

Since Glassman will have nowhere near the access to the president that his predecessor enjoyed (no one really could), the idea seems to be to demonstrate that the administration is serious enough about America's image not to leave the position unfilled.

This nominee will certainly have a handle on the perception-shaping powers of the mass media.

Glassman is the archetype of a Journo-Lobbyist:

James Glassman and TCS [Tech Central Station, founded by Glassman] have given birth to something quite new in Washington: journo-lobbying. It's an innovation driven primarily by the influence industry. Lobbying firms that once specialized in gaining person-to-person access to key decision-makers have branched out. The new game is to dominate the entire intellectual environment in which officials make policy decisions, which means funding everything from think tanks to issue ads to phony grassroots pressure groups. But the institution that most affects the intellectual atmosphere in Washington, the media, has also proven the hardest for K Street to influence--until now.


Most think tanks are organized under the 501(c)(3) section of the tax code and must disclose many details of how they are financed, being--at least in theory--expected to justify their non-profit status with work in the public interest. Even think tanks of an acknowledged ideological bent seek to insulate the work of their scholars and fellows from the specific policy priorities of the businesses or foundations that provide their funding. Likewise, traditional newspapers and magazines, whether for-profit or not, keep a wall between their editorial and business sides; even at magazines of opinion, the political views of writers are presumed to be offered in good faith, uninfluenced by advertisers.

Unlike traditional think tanks, Tech Central Station is organized as a limited liability corporation--that is, a for-profit business. As an LLC, there is little Tech Central Station must publicly disclose about itself save for the names and addresses of its owners, and there is no presumption, legal or otherwise, that it exists to serve the public interest. Likewise, rather than advertisers per se, TCS has what it calls "sponsors," which are thanked prominently in a section one click away from the front page of the site. (AT&T, ExxonMobil, and Microsoft were early supporters; General Motors, Intel, McDonalds, NASDAQ, National Semiconductor, and Qualcomm, as well as the drug industry trade association, PhRMA, joined during the past year.) Each firm pays a sponsorship fee--although neither Glassman nor any of the sponsors would disclose how much--and gets banner advertisements on the site. When I contacted a few of the sponsors, each described their relationship to TCS in a slightly different way. An Intel spokeswoman said that TCS was "a consultant" to the computer-chip maker. AT&T's representative said her firm was "a funder." A Microsoft representative explained that the company "is constantly looking for ways to educate on some of the critical and important issues in the technology sector."


[T]ime and time again, TCS's coverage of particular issues has had the appearance of a well-aimed P.R. blitz. After ExxonMobil became a sponsor, for instance, the site published a flurry of content attacking both the Kyoto accord to limit greenhouse gasses and the science of global warming--which happen to be among Exxon-Mobil's chief policy concerns in Washington.

Glassman left TCS in 2006.

Maybe Glassman can scare up the help of some of his corporate buddies in his new gig.

And, if all else fails, maybe he can use his financial expertise to help unload some of the toxic CDO sludge on foreigners.


Adrian said...

Looks like he's an expert in Beltway-IO, which means he probably knows next-to-nothing about the audiences he'll be trying to influence as public-diplomacy czar.

Maybe we could run an IO to get him to hire MountainRunner ;)

theBhc said...

A deck chair shuffler, and, I expect, one rather ill-suited to the task. But isn't that always the case with this tribe?

By the way and though I'm loathe to do this M1, you asked for pointers to new bits, so here is one I got popped up on Bradblog. I'd rather do this via email, but you have yet to grace my inbox with some pithy remarks (I left an addr in some comment awhile back).

Circus Maximus

Meatball One said...

Darn Rocket Man. I missed that E-addy you left in a comment. I'll do deserved penance and mine past comments in repentant search of it. Sorry 'bout that.

Thanks for the tip!