Since I almost never read the ads in the paper, I just saw this in Monday's edition -- a two-page full-color ad (pages A6 and A7 in Monday's paper) from Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals
, makers of Enzyte penis-enlargement pills, "An open letter to Jim McNair."
McNair is a business reporter who's hammered Berkeley in the past for bad advertising and unseemly sales tactics. It started with this story
, and then this
. The legal troubles led to big layoffs
, and finally the attention of the feds. Federal authorities raided Berkeley's offices in March 2005, more lawsuits and finally indictments. In January, four former executives at Berkeley agreed to plead guilty to charges they conspired to defraud consumers through the sale of more than $100 million worth of sexual aids and other herbal supplements. (This story
is just a taste of what McNair has written). It's unlikely Berkeley officials would have been prosecuted without McNair's reporting.
The two-page ad contains the signatures of all Berkeley employees and blatantly implores McNair to write more positive things about the company. It offers free 60-day trials of Berkeley products, via a coupon, and says "please report your results either to us, or directly to Mr. McNair."
If the Enquirer had any integrity at all, it would not have accepted the ad. Berkeley can write letters to the editor, and can sit down with McNair anytime they want to tell their story. Accepting money to run this ad says the Enquirer's advertising department finds fault with Mr. McNair's reporting, and wants to set the record straight, so to speak, without interference from the newsroom. The advertising department -- and ultimately the publisher -- allowed Berkeley to go around McNair to give a one-sided account, and to plead with McNair write more positively about the company.
This is unbelievable. Does the Enquirer need the money this badly, that it would impugn the integrity of its news operation?