Fenton Communications

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Fenton Communications is a public relations firm which specialises in PR for not-for-profit organizations, liberal advocacy groups and companies with a claim for social responsibility. They are probably best known for their represenation of MoveOn. It was founded by David Fenton in 1982 and now has offices in New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.

In April 2004 O'Dwyer's PR Daily reported that Fenton ran the following ad on Air America Radio, which it launched with Dan Klores Communications:

"Public relations. Monty Python called it a modern useless profession. Too bad they were wrong. PR has become the way crafty corporations and even the leader of the free world convince people that pollution is harmless, war is peace and greed is good. No wonder we at Fenton Communications don't like to be asked at parties what we do for a living."

Lisa Witter, an executive VP, told O'Dwyer's that FC does not like to be called a PR firm. "We're generally described as a public interest communications firm," she said. [1]

Criticism from the right

Fenton Communications' history of working for environment and other non-profits has drawn criticism the conservative Hudson Institute affiliated project, the Center for Global Food Issues. The CFGI champions genetically engineered crops and disputed concerns about mad cow disease. In February 2002 CFGI produced a report The Fear Profiteers edited by Bonner Cohen, John Carlisle, Michael Fumento, Michael Gough, Henry Miller, Steven J. Milloy, Kenneth Smith, Elizabeth Whelan.

They wrote of Fenton Communications that "it is a founding member of the so-called Business for Social Responsibility. Yet Fenton has played a key role in a growing number of health scare campaigns involving both his non-profit and for-profit clients." [2]

"Their practices combine junk science with a hidden agenda to scare consumers away from safe products, supposedly all in the name of protecting public health and the environment." ... including scares about Alar and apples, swordfish, leaky breast implants, Health Care Without Harm ("danger of phthalates, chemicals used to make plastic flexible for products such as IV bags, teethers, nipples, and toys"), the book "Our Stolen Future" ("alleged that synthetic chemicals were causing developmental and reproductive problems in humans, such as low sperm counts, impotence and even homosexuality"), Bovine Growth Hormone," Cohen wrote.

"If you have been scared about food or pesticides in the last 10 years, chances are Fenton Communications played a key role in provoking that fear. The scares just don't ever stop. But they all have one thing in common -- a lack of evidence and abundance of deceit. The claims involved in the scares have all been refuted in public. By the time the scares have been debunked, however, the campaigns have taken such a strong hold that the truth usually is irrelevant," he wrote.

The report stated that it was published "through the efforts of the National Center for Public Policy and Junkscience.com".


Fention lists their current and former clients on their site as including: [3]

It manages the Iraq Policy Information Project.


Management team

Other staff

SourceWatch resources

Contact information

182 Second Street
Fourth Floor
San Francisco, CA
94105 U.S.A.
Ph: 415.901.0111
Fx: 415.901.0110

260 Fifth Avenue
Ninth Floor
New York, NY
10001 U.S.A.
Ph: 212.584.5000
Fx: 212.584.5045

1320 18th Street N.W.
Fifth Floor
Washington, DC
20036 U.S.A.

Ph: 202.822.5200
Fx: 202.822.4787

Web: http://www.fenton.com

External links


  1. Press release, "Fenton Communications Launches Green-Tech Division: Josh Baran to Head New Effort," Fenton Communications via PR Newswire, May 27, 2008.
  2. "Fenton Adds 'Deep Thinker'," O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), April 16, 2008.


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