John Stauber
Key Player

Co-founder, Center for Media & Democracy; policy board, Organic Consumers Association; advisory board, Center for Food Safety; former field officer, Foundation on Economic Trends; co-author, Mad Cow USA, and Toxic Sludge is Good for YouThough typically described by the mass media as an “investigative journalist,” John Stauber of the Center for Media & Democracy (CMD) has spent his entire life in left-wing advocacy. The co-author of Toxic Sludge Is Good for You!, Mad Cow U.S.A., and Trust Us, We’re Experts!, Stauber is also a member of the Organic Consumers Association’s policy board and sits on the advisory board of Andrew Kimbrell’s Center for Food Safety. He got his professional start as a field officer for anti-technology guru Jeremy Rifkin’s Foundation on Economic Trends.

At the height of the U.S. mad cow disease scare, Stauber was one of only four “experts” offered to reporters by Environmental Media Services, the media arm of Washington PR giant Fenton Communications. Along with Consumers Union’s Michael Hansen and the Center for Food Safety’s Andrew Kimbrell, Stauber tried to convince the American public that a well-known malady in domestic deer and elk (called Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD) was actually a “mad deer” disease, some sort of harbinger of a coming mad-cow epidemic. “By the time we see people confirmed as dying of CWD,” he told one reporter, “those deaths are just going to be the tip of the iceberg.”

While describing the Center for Media & Democracy’s mission as “blowing the lid off today’s multi-billion-dollar propaganda-for-hire industry,” Stauber himself conceded in an interview that “everyone, myself included, who’s trying to get an idea across, market a product, or influence other citizens uses techniques that fit the definition of public relations.” That’s not surprising, since CMD (funded by over two dozen private foundations) seems to largely be a PR tool for selling Stauber’s books.