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“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
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“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
“At a time when the need for independent journalism and for media outlets unaffiliated with and untainted by the government and corporate sponsors is greater than ever, Project Censored has created a context for reporting the complete truths in all matters that matter. . . . It is therefore left to us to find sources for information we can trust. . . . It is in this task that we are fortunate to have an ally like Project Cen-sored.” —Dahr Jamail
“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union
“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
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“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.
“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times
“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” —Walter Cronkite

9. Big Pharma Political Lobbying Not Limited to Presidential Campaigns

Pharmaceutical companies have been among the biggest political spenders for years, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. As Mike Ludwig of Truthout reported, based on CRP data, large pharmaceutical companies made over $51 million in campaign donations during the 2012 presidential election, nearly $32 million in the 2014 elections, and, as of September 2015, they had already put $10 million into the 2016 election. During the 2014 elections, Pfizer led drug companies with $1.5 million in federal campaign donations, followed by Amgen ($1.3 million) and McKesson ($1.1 million).

Although these are large sums of money, campaign donations by large pharmaceutical companies pale in comparison to how much they spent on lobbying politicians and influencing policies outside of elections. As Ludwig reported, according to data gathered on the 2014 election, the industry spent seven dollars on lobbying for every dollar spent on the election. The $229 million spent by drug companies and their lobbying groups that year was down from a peak of $273 million in 2009, the year that Congress debated the Affordable Care Act.

According to records from MapLight’s lobbying database, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has been the drug companies’ lead lobbying group. Since 2008, PhRMA has spend over $163 million on lobbying, making it the fifth largest lobbying spender in the nation, outspending powerful defense contractors (such as Boeing and Northrop Grumman), the oil and gas industry (e.g., ExxonMobil), and Koch Industries, among others. Pfizer is among the nation’s top 25 lobbying spenders, having spent over $101 million since 2008 and $9.4 million in 2015 alone.

What do big pharmaceutical companies hope to achieve through lobbying? As Ludwig wrote, “lobbying allows Big Pharma to take advantage of Washington’s revolving door and directly influence legislation.” Specifically, records filed by drug companies and their lobbying groups indicated the industry’s top concerns, including policy on patents and trademarks, management of Medicare and Medicaid, and international trade. For example, Ludwig’s article described how the pharmaceutical industry sought to persuade the Obama administration to pressure India to tighten its laws on generic drugs. India’s less strict patent laws have allowed some manufacturers to make generic versions of drugs used in developing countries to treat HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, undermining the monopolies created by US patent laws that permit drug companies up to twenty years before generic versions of their drug, which would drive down prices, can enter the market. Pharmaceutical lobbyists also consistently lobby to prevent Medicare from negotiating drug prices. Pharmaceutical lobbyists also consistently lobby to prevent Medicare from negotiating drug prices. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders advocated on behalf of Medicare price negotiations during their 2016 presidential campaigns. A PhRMA press release dramatically said that Clinton’s proposed plan would “turn back the clock on medical innovation and halt progress against diseases that patients fear most.”

Since Ludwig’s September 2015 report, updated records published by the Center for Responsive Politics indicate that the 2016 campaign has followed the pattern of past election seasons. As of May 16, 2016, Pfizer had made $1.27 million in campaign contributions (with 64 percent going to Republican candidates) in 2015–16, followed by Amgen (over $939,000, with 60 percent to Republicans) and Celgene (over $848,000, with nearly 90 percent to Republican or “Conservative” candidates). Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America made over $242,000 in campaign donations, nearly 75 percent of which has gone to Republican candidates.

As in previous years, the pharmaceutical industry’s investment in lobbying has dramatically outpaced its campaign contributions. Based on data from the Senate Office of Public Records, as of April 25, 2016, PhRMA had spent over $5.98 million on lobbying in 2016, followed by Pfizer ($3.28 million), Merck ($3.26 million), and Novartis (over $3.13 million). Collectively, pharmaceutical and health product lobbying for the first months of 2016 (through April 25) totaled over $63.1 million.

As Ludwig wrote, the pharmaceutical industry includes some of the most profitable companies in the world, and the industry has “a clear interest in maintaining the political status quo.” While representatives of the industry assure the public that profits go to the research and development of new drugs, a closer examination of Big Pharma’s spending on political contributions and, especially, lobbying reveals that it spends hundreds of millions of dollars to influence US politics, health care policy, and international trade.

Although the cost of prescription drugs has been a major issue in the 2016 presidential election campaign, corporate news coverage has failed to report the extent to which the pharmaceutical industry engages in political lobbying. Apart from articles published by CNN and US News & World Report, which both drew on data from the Center for Responsive Politics, drug companies’ campaign donations have received limited news coverage. Also citing the Center for Responsive Politics, a February 2016 article in the New York Times briefly mentioned the amount spent by the pharmaceutical industry on lobbying. Otherwise, this topic appears to have gone significantly underreported, despite the corporate news media’s nonstop coverage of the 2016 electoral campaign.

Mike Ludwig, “How Much of Big Pharma’s Massive Profits are Used to Influence Politicians?” Truthout, September 30, 2015,

Student Researcher: Harrison Hartman (Sonoma State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Debora Paterniti (Sonoma State University)

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