Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Activist Groups Dissemble on Mislabeled "RAND Report"
On November 9 the Boston Globe and other major media misrepresented a private paper commissioned by the gay-activist Michael D. Palm Center as if it were a genuine research report of the RAND Corporation. This was not a RAND study; it was done by a RAND employee on her own time, together with an academic associate. The authors were Laura Miller, Ph.D., who is employed as a researcher at RAND, and Bonnie Moradi, Ph.D. of the University of Florida.
As noted in RAND's November 9 news release, the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, commissioned the paper, which "was the product of a contract directly with the researchers and not through RAND." Survey results used for the study were from a four-year-old 2006 Zogby International Poll that also was commissioned by the Palm Center, a gay activist group formerly known as the "Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military." It remains unclear what the Palm Center's involvement, described as a "contract," was.
The Palm Center and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) nevertheless misdescribed the Miller/Moradi paper as a RAND report:
-Statement on Rep. Frank's Remarks to The Advocate on 2010 Repeal
Both organizations exaggerated "findings" that CMR analyzed in this article:
-RAND Lends Brand to Palm Center Polemic
CMR Executive Director Tommy Sears asked questions of the RAND Media Relations department, which tried to correct the situation. On RAND's request, the Palm Center changed the headline on their article promoting the Miller/Moradi paper slightly. But in an interview with National Public Radio in Connecticut, Nathaniel Frank of the Palm Center misrepresented the paper as "a new RAND Report."
RAND also contacted the SLDN, which replaced their original characterization of the Miller/Moradi paper as "a new survey by the RAND Corp." with a revision that remains misleading. The SLDN now describes the paper as "a new study by researchers from the RAND Corporation and the University of Florida and commissioned by the Palm Center."
This version still dissembles. Using the plural word "researchers" suggests a typical RAND team "study" rather than what the Miller/Moradi paper really is. The document was written by a single RAND employee, working without compensation on her own time, together with an associate at the University of Florida, reinterpreting four-year-old (not "new") information from a Zogby Poll paid for by the Palm Center.
Understanding that RAND was not professionally "commissioned" and their employee was not compensated, the SLDN's new iteration obfuscates nearly as much as before. The extent and nature of the Palm Center's involvement still is not clear. And as of this posting, the SLDN continues to refer to a non-existent "RAND study" in their website article linked above.
RAND is very careful about the use of its copyright and logo, and rightly so. Certainly the corporation does not want its name and reputation to be "borrowed" and misused to exaggerate the credibility of a private paper done for an outside activist group---especially one that is likely to misrepresent the document in congressional testimony and other public statements. Regardless of intent, the Palm Center benefited greatly from the RAND news release, which helped them to promote their cause under false pretenses.
This episode in the ongoing Gays in the Military Campaign, known as the GIMC, goes beyond public relations, or PR. When ideologues fabricate information to change public attitudes toward an issue, the proper term is "perception management," or PM, for short. Palm Center/SLDN Polemics continue to undermine the credibility of homosexualist groups that demand government power to impose their gay agenda on the military.
This is not the first time that the Palm Center has misrepresented "research" that cannot withstand close scrutiny. PM tactics such as this will not be enough to persuade Congress to repeal the 1993 law stating that homosexuals are not eligible to serve in the military.