USTR Fishing For Academics To Astroturf In Favor Of TPP

from the if-you're-asking... dept

Now that the TPP deal is done, it appears that the USTR has decided to focus on pushing propaganda, rather than legitimately discussing the details with the American public. An anonymous recipient of a pitch from the USTR’s “Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement,” Mitch Gainer has passed along an email she or he recently received:

From: Gainer, Mitch <>
Date: Wed, Oct 7, 2015 at 12:45 PM
Subject: USTR Trans-Pacific Partnership professor outreach

Dear Professor XXX,

The U.S Trade Representative is enthusiastic to inform you and your office that The Trans-Pacific Partnership has closed ministerial negotiations!

We believe that your expertise in labor standards in international trade would be significant in expanding the conversation about the benefits of this historic trade agreement to your larger community. I would be delighted to set up a call if you are interested in writing an op-ed, writing a blog post, doing research, or being on background for reporters ? to highlight the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We would love to provide you with as much information as we can and answer any questions.

For more information about the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership take a look at It has detailed issue-by-issue fact sheets for the areas that TPP will address.

Please let me know if there is time that works for you in the next two weeks to talk. When you respond, please include Catherine Vegis at ? thank you!


Mitch Gainer
Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

Of course, if the person in charge of “public engagement” were truly interested in “public engagement” he’d be focused on actually releasing the document, so that the public can actually engage, rather than fishing around for an op-ed, blog post, research or being a source for reporters. Notice that Gainer points the person to the laughably misleading sets of “facts” that the USTR has posted to its website, rather than the actual documents. Funny how that works.

Also, given how we’ve seen this kind of propaganda appear before, you have to wonder how much of it is orchestrated by the USTR. The very fact that the USTR seems to think its job is selling this to the American public, rather than hearing from the American public says an awful lot about the way the USTR is approaching everything related to the TPP, and confirms that it’s not serving the interests of the US public at all.

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Comments on “USTR Fishing For Academics To Astroturf In Favor Of TPP”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t know why IP laws ever came to existence or why they got expanded so much. I never remember seeing public pressure in favor of creating or expanding them. but I do remember Disney asking for copy protection extensions. I do remember astroturfing campaigns from organizations like the MPAA. Politicians are supposed to represent the public. IP laws don’t seem to be a political response to public pressure but to pressure from business interests. So why do we have them?

Wendy Cockcroft says:

Re: Re: Re:

The easiest way to do that is to get people off the Kang and Kodo bandwagon, or as Karl puts it, “Partisan Nitwit Disease.”

As soon as the people stop plumping for Team Red and Team Blue over hot button issues, you’ll have that representative democracy you’ve always dreamed of. Until then, you’re stuck with that mouldy old two horse race you have now. Remember, folks, you get what you vote for (or allow to be voted for by not taking part in the process).

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Human Nature in Action

Tragedy of the commons is the end result of anything that depends on non-point-source self-awareness. The moment we have a statement where things will happen if only the voters could turn around and do X or voters could stop doing Y then it’s not going to happen through merely education or culture change.

Horserace politics, single-issue politics, red vs. blue all are going to continue to happen as long as we have first-past-the-post, and that’s going to happen so long as it benefits officials for it to be that way.

In the US, our best attempts at third-party candidate have only been spoilers for the slightly lesser evil primary party.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I don’t know why IP laws ever came to existence or why they got expanded so much… I do remember Disney asking for copy protection extensions. I do remember astroturfing campaigns from organizations like the MPAA.

Oh, so you do know.

IP laws don’t seem to be a political response to public pressure but to pressure from business interests. So why do we have them?

Because pressure from business interest works, especially when there’s no countervailing pressure in the other direction. There is no powerful rich organization lobbying for less strict copyright laws.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:


We know all the information on the USTR site is going to be propaganda, and that they’re not going to be answering “any questions” in substance, because they’re utterly determined that no one know what is really in the devil of the TPP details, until the ink is dry on those doomsday signatures.

Further, we know that any professor who comes up with a serious analysis arguing against TPP is going to be round-filed so fast his paper will catch fire from the friction, saving them the trouble of tossing in a match. Why it’s right there in the letter: “If you are interested to [develop materials] that highlight the benefits of [TPP].”

So I guess they’re asking the professors to do propaganda-in-propaganda-out.

No discussion of benefits to the professor, though: it’s so gauche to put such details in writing.

Anonymous Coward says:

all USTR representatives should be arrested for treason! they may well have done as much as they can for various industries (and i’ll bet been well paid for doing so!) but they have crapped big time on the people and the nation! and dont forget they have extended their reach to other countries, using the threat of sanctions against those nations that dont fall in line with what is wanted!!

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