Filed Under: Uncategorized

Alar-mists and a Kennedy take on SUVs

It apparently wasn’t enough for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to accuse America’s pork farmers of being>“a greater threat than Osama Bin Laden.” Now Kennedy is accusing sport-utility-vehicle drivers of being unpatriotic as well. And the slick PR firm hooking him up with the anti-SUV movement is the same outfit that brought us Environmental Media Services, the Environmental Worrying– er — Working Group, and the legendary Alar-on-apples food-scare fraud.

“The SUVs now are driving our oil use,” Kennedy whined on NBC’s Today show Tuesday. Invoking global fears worthy of an anti-war rally, Kennedy added: “People who care about this country should be saying ‘We’re going to use less oil.’”

Kennedy also insisted, against all common sense, that “the easiest way to get killed on the road today, or to have your children killed, is to drive around in an SUV.” In an imaginary collision between a Hummer and a Yugo, we know which vehicle we’d want our kids riding in.

If you’re wondering why Bobby Kennedy the younger would move his crosshairs from farmers to sport-ute drivers, look no further than Fenton Communications, DC’s most notorious springboard for environmental scare campaigns. In 1989, Fenton dreamed up an attack on America’s apple growers, floating a bogus story to CBS News about supposed cancer risks from Alar. The chemical spray had been used for years to keep apples on the trees longer so fewer would fall and rot before they could be picked.

The Fenton client who benefited from the Alar scam, in the form of fees from a 1-900 number set up to field calls from frantic parents, was the Natural Resources Defense Council, where Kennedy works as Senior Attorney.

USA Today noted last Thursday Target=_blank>that Fenton Communications is behind both of the major PR efforts currently targeting SUVs: Arianna Huffington’s “Detroit Project,” and the “What Would Jesus Drive?” campaign. [Click here for our favorite parody of this one] Firm president David Fenton apparently considered these programs successful; he’s just promoted the man responsible for both campaigns to a Managing Director position in — where else? — San Francisco.

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