Rachel Maddow issues another critique on PR pros

The Rachel Maddow Show continued its critique of some in the PR industry during the November 18 episode, this time calling out Peter Pitts, Porter Novelli's director of the global healthcare practice at Porter Novelli.

The Rachel Maddow Show continued its critique of some in the PR industry during the November 18 episode, this time calling out Peter Pitts, director of the global healthcare practice at Porter Novelli.

The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI), which Pitts is president of, came under fire by the host of the eponymous show during a piece documenting what the show has labeled “Affront Groups,” associations set up to sway opinion against healthcare reform but are less than transparent about their mission and supporters.

An excerpt from the show's transcript:

“The Center for the American Progress today documents how CMPI has been a big player in the anti-health reform movement over the past few months. They sponsored anti-Obama tea party protests… They produced a number of anti-health reform online ads and video and even anti-health reform video games…

Who runs CMPI, the Center for Medicine and the Public Interest, this group? Well, its president is a man named Peter Pitts. In addition to heading up this ostensibly nonpartisan medical think tank… Mr. Pitts is also the director for Global Health Care at the giant PR firm, Porter Novelli.

Porter Novelli, of course, has a bit of a history when it comes to shilling for the health care industry, having helped that industry kill the Patients Bill of Rights way back in 1994. They said at the time that it was part of a, quote, “big government agenda.” Why does that sound so familiar?

CMPI, of course, would not tell the Center for American Progress who is funding them…”

Though Pitts was not immediately available, Porter Novelli CEO Gary Stockman released a statement.

"When you attract great senior talent to an agency they bring a variety of different viewpoints," he said. "These are leaders who are actively engaged in public policy and public debate; it's part of what makes them so valuable to our clients and so beneficial to our staff... We require that all employees adhere to strict ethical standards, including transparency and disclosure, and we take steps to ensure that our staff are living up to these commitments."

Earlier this year, the show took on Burson-Marsteller and its CEO, Mark Penn, and just a week ago, DCI Group found itself in the sightline.

PRWeek, too, has encountered some advocacy groups that won't disclose their backing. Let's hear your comments on where the industry should stand on this.

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