Don BaerPosted 5 years ago under Mainstream Media, Politics, Truth Activists
Donald “Don” A. Baer (born September 17, 1954) is a media and communications executive whose career covers a wide range of businesses, non-profit organizations, and government positions. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to this, Baer has a Master’s in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science as well as a Juris Doctor at The University of Virginia School of Law.
In the 1980s, Baer became a lawyer for New York’s Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler, primarily representing media companies in court. He then started his career as a journalist, working for U.S. News & World Report where he covered politics and the White House, The American Lawyer, The New York Times, and CBS News.
Don Baer’s role in Bill Clinton’s administration
From 1994 to 1998, Baer served in the administration of then-President Bill Clinton, working as Chief Speechwriter before becoming the Assistant to the President and White House Director of Strategic Planning and Communications. During his stint in public office, he played a crucial role in Clinton’s administration, especially during the 1996 re-election, where he helped drive integrated communications strategy through different domestic and foreign policy government agencies.
In addition to this, Baer was essential in writing many Presidential speeches, including the State of the Union Addresses from 1995 to 2000, the Second Inaugural Address, the 1996 Democratic Convention Nomination Acceptance Speech, and the Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration of the Normandy Invasion. However, he did not work for Clinton during the impeachment process.
Don Baer’s experience in Discovery Communications
After Baer’s stint in Bill Clinton’s administration, he went back to working in the private sector as the Senior Executive Vice President for Strategy and Development and executive for Discovery Communications, home of the Discovery Channel. He also became a principal deputy to the CEO of the company. In this position, Baer became responsible for new ventures and acquisitions, corporate communications, research, public policy, and digital media strategy and operations.
It was during Baer’s time that Discovery’s online offerings expanded and their mobile video services were launched. Additionally, Baer led the company’s public affairs productions, including the Emmy Award-winning series Decisions That Shook the World, a documentary on the Brown versus Board Education decision called “With All Deliberate Speed,” and a documentary series, which was produced in partnership with The New York Time‘s Thomas Friedman.
Don Baer and Burson-Marsteller
In 2008, Baer became part of one of the largest public relations firms in the world, Burson-Marsteller, which is part of WPP. He first served as Vice Chair of the company before becoming its Worldwide Chair and CEO in 2012. Burson-Marsteller is no stranger to controversy, having been involved with the Saudi government after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and Monsanto’s campaign for genetically engineered foods. Even during Baer’s time as CEO the company was still implicated in different issues.
In 2011, emails leaked to the public revealed that Facebook has been paying Burson-Marsteller to plant and spread negative stories about their rival Google. The public relations firm tried to get high profile U.S. news outlets like USA Today and The Washington Post to publish articles that would scare internet users about Google’s privacy policies. Burson-Marsteller, which has previously been involved in anti-Google campaigns by Microsoft, was implicated in the issue when high-profile media figures Jim Goldman, a former CNBC tech reporter, and former political reporter John Mercurio began pitching anti-Google stories on their behalf.
Goldman and Mercurio’s pitch were focused on raising privacy concerns about Google Social Circle, which is a social network feature based on Gmail. According to them, this feature was “designed to scrape private data and build deeply personal dossiers on millions of users – in a direct and flagrant violation of [Google’s] agreement with the FTC [Federal Trade Commission].”
Initially, Burson-Marsteller didn’t reveal who was behind this assignment. However, Facebook soon admitted to the Daily Beast that it was the one who hired the public relations firm for this purpose. In response to this, Paul Cordasco, a spokesperson for Burson-Marsteller, claimed that the client specifically requested for their name to be withheld.
“Whatever the rationale, this was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined. When talking to the media, we need to adhere to strict standards of transparency about clients, and this incident underscores the absolute importance of that principle,” Cordasco said.
After Facebook’s anti-Google controversy, Burson-Marsteller once again became criticized for agreeing to represent a Tunisian Islamist political party called Ennahda Party. This political party was responsible for the formation of a coalition government in Tunisia during the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011. However, they were unable to stop terrorism and improve the economy. The Ennahda Party has also called for the destruction of Israel and has been implicated in terror attacks against different tourist hotels. This controversy was made even worse by the fact that Burson-Marsteller initially declined an offer to work on an image campaign for Israel, with their representative claiming that “if we accept this project, this will create a great amount of negative reactions…Israel is a particularly controversial project.”
In 2018, the public relations firm became involved with the Saudi Government for the second time. Prior to this, the company already helped Saudi Arabia’s government improve its image after the September 11 terrorist attacks. which awarded the company with a contract for public relations service. This time around their goal remains the same but they’re focusing on the Riyadh-led military alliance, also called the “Islamic Nato.” This global initiative claims that it would “enhance cooperation between Islamic and non-Islamic countries and develop new initiatives to counter terrorism.”
By the end of 2018, Burson-Marsteller merged with Cohn & Wolfe to form Burson Cohn & Wolfe, of which Don Baer became the Chairman.
Don Baer and Penn Schoen Berland (PSB)
Don Baer is also the Chairman for another company under WPP called PSB. Initially, this research firm was primarily focused on making political campaign strategies. But since then, it has expanded its service to clients like McDonald’s, Ford, Coca-Cola, GlaxoSmithKline, Microsoft, and Walmart, which it provides with insights regarding strategic communications, advertising, behavioral analytics, reputation, and brand and product positioning.
According to Don Baer, PSB has helped elect 35 heads of government around the world, including former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair. The company plays an important role in shaping political debate across five continents, having carried out more than two million face-to-face interviews around the world. Even before Baer became PSB’s Chairman he already had prior experience with PSB during the Clinton administration.
“In working with us in the Clinton administration [PSB helped] to really guide and shape the direction of our governing as much as our election campaign and that was true from 1994 on through to 2001, through the end of the presidency,” said Baer.
Don Baer and NewsGuard
In 2018, Don Baer became an advisory board member of the news rating agency NewsGuard. The company, which was founded by Steven Brill and Louis Gordon Crovitz, aims to fight “fake news” with old-school journalism. To do this, they employed a team of journalists who would assess commonly used news and information websites for credibility and transparency based on nine journalistic criteria. These include publishing false content, revealing conflicts of interest, disclosing financing, and correcting errors. Then they give the website a red rating if it does not follow their standards of accuracy and accountability or a green rating if it does. In addition, the journalists will provide the websites with something that seems like a nutrition label, that provides details regarding the site’s background and content, as well as the reason for its rating.
Although NewsGuard still hasn’t finished its goal of evaluating 7,500 websites, it has already received a lot of criticism for its ratings. This is because websites like CNN and The Washington Post, which have previously been accused and proven of reporting fake news, were given a green rating. Additionally, the U.S. state-funded media outlet Voice of America was said to be a credible source even if it was reformed to support U.S. national security objectives. Meanwhile, the more credible website RT was given a red rating for “raising doubts about other countries and their institutions,” possibly because of their critical pieces on the U.S. government and its allies.
NewsGuard is backed by people from the government, neoconservatives, and powerful moneyed interests. This would explain why the agency exhibits very clear bias against specific news websites. One of the company’s CEOs, Louis Gordon Crovitz, has been associated with neoconservative think tanks, namely the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Heritage Foundation. Meanwhile, its third largest investor, the Publicis Groupe, is associated with many big clients that could affect how NewsGuard evaluates websites that provide accurate reports that generate bad publicity for these companies.
In addition to this, their advisory board consists of people with questionable interests, like those who have had high positions in public office or those involved with media and private corporations. Some of its members include former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, self-proclaimed “chief propagandist” Richard Stengel, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) Michael Hayden, and Jessica Lessin, who is the Editor-in-Chief of the Information.
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