Posted by: loveleigh | February 15, 2009

Wag the Dog

wag_the_dog1Last week in class we watched the movie Wag the Dog. The movie is about a PR practitioner and a movie producer pulling off the ultimate distraction of a scandalous allegation against the president during re-election by creating a fake war with Albania.

Out of the three basic value orientations discussed in our book, I think the PR practitioner, Conrad Brean, played by Robert De Niro is an absolutist. He does whatever he wants regardless of the consequences. For example he creates this fictitious war in order to get the president re-elected after he was accused of sexually assaulting a teenager. He feeds the gullible American public lies after lies creating a diversion from the real issues. He also does whatever is necessary to cover his tracks, including killing the movie producer, played by Dustin Hoffman, that helped him during the entire scheme.

According to the PRSA Code of Ethics, Brean breaks just about every rule there is. The code says that PR practitioners should always be honest, fair, loyal to the public and clients. Brean lies to the American public numerous times about a fake war with Albania. He is not fair to his client because he ends up killing his movie producer partner in order to cover his own tracks. He also is not held responsible for his actions because he was behind the scenes, so if the public did find out about the fake war, Brean most likely would not take the blame for it.

To ‘wag the dog’ means to purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance, to something else of lesser significance. By doing so, the lesser-significant event is catapulted into the limelight, drowning proper attention to what was originally the more important issue.  I think Wag the Dog is a very clever title to the movie because Brean creates the appearance of a war with Albania to divert the American public from the accusations of the president sexually assaulting a teenager.

I believe this movie shined a negative light on PR people because it showed just how powerful they are and how easy it is for them to manipulate situations in the media. I believe PR people can use that same power of manipulation and do good, but this movie demonstrated how that power was used my corrupt PR practitioners. It makes PR people look sneaky and untrustworthy.



  1. I agree with alot of what you had to say about Wag the Dog and this helped me to get started when I wrote my blog!

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