Bahrain’s chief Washington lobbying organization is Qorvis, which also represents controversial autocratic clients such as Saudi Arabia and Equatorial Guinea. Qorvis doesn’t seem to do much for Bahrain (or its other clients) other than put out a steady stream of press releases at PR Newswire. For example, after Bahraini security forces in July raided the offices of Doctors Without Borders — human rights activists allege this was part of the government’s effort to deny medical services to injured protesters — Qorvis distributed a statement saying the medical group was to blame because it had failed to obtain the proper permit to operate in the country.
Such releases are not aimed directly at public opinion so much as at Google and other search engines. A steady stream of press releases serves to push news stories lower in search engine returns; when it comes to Qorvis’ clients, the news is almost invariably bad so burying it makes sense. “Qorvis’ releases are pure propaganda and it doesn’t even bother flogging them to journalists,” said the lobbyist cited above. “They just trot the stuff out so there’s something else to read on Google when one of their clients fucks up.”
Then there’s [Tom] Squitieri, who has worked for a range of domestic and foreign clients through his own P.R. firm, TS Navigations. On the domestic front, he has helped — according to his list of “key accomplishments — “craft and lead the campaign to reposition Taser International from a severe crisis communication dilemma” and won an exemption for an unnamed tobacco processing company from “congressional legislation giving the FDA regulatory control over tobacco.”
On the foreign front he (like Qorvis) worked for the Kurdistan Regional Government, whose representatives he hooked up with journalists and “professionals in the wider communications community” including “sign and banner makers” and “event planners.” He also wrote speeches for Kurdish officials, like one delivered to the World Affairs Council in West Palm Beach earlier this year that had his Kurdish client quoting ’60s Yippie Abbie Hoffman about the virtues of democracy.
For Bahrain, Squitieri tweets and blogs. He puts on airs of objectivity and impartiality yet his paymaster’s point of view, delivered in hackneyed prose, is obvious.
I put up an angry post about one of Squitieri’s puff pieces 2 months ago. Take a look, if you’re interested.