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John Stauber

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John Stauber is an independent organizer, investigative writer, public speaker, author of six books and consultant. He founded the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) [1] in 1993 to create the only public interest and journalism organization dedicated to exposing organized corporate and government propaganda and its impacts on democracy, public information and democratic social change.[2]

Stauber served for sixteen years as CMD's Executive Director, fundraiser and on its board of directors. He retired from CMD in 2009 and Lisa Graves became CMD's next Executive Director.



  • Email: John.Stauber [AT]


In 1995 Stauber's first book, primarily an exposé of the dark side of 20th century propaganda, also exposed the ongoing PR scam of renaming sewage sludge with the Orwellian term "biosolids" and dumping it on farms and gardens. [3] Stauber co-authored six books for CMD beginning with 1995's Toxic Sludge Is Good for You! [4] and including the 2003 New York Times best seller Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq [5]

John Stauber exposes the sludge industry PR campaign spinning sewage into "beneficial biosolids" fertilizer.

John Stauber on PBS NewsHour exposing the Pentagon military analyst program, debating Bob Zelnik

Stauber was born in 1953 and raised in Marshfield, Wisconsin. His activism began in high school in the late 1960s by his organizing student support for the local civil rights movement, organizing against the USA's war on Vietnam and co-organizing a student-led high school teach-in for the first Earth Day in 1970. He has then since worked with or founded many non-profit research, advocacy and community-based organizations.

He founded and ran the Coalition for Economic Alternatives from 1973 to 1979, stopping Agent Orange aerial spraying in Wisconsin by the US Forest Service. From 1975 through 1976 he was one of sixteen National Co-Directors of the Peoples Bicentennial Commission promoting economic democracy and exposing the power of global corporations. He then founded the Citizens National Forest Coalition in 1978 helping to stop aerial spraying of Agent Orange in all US National Forests in 1979. He also advised Citizen Soldier in its seminal work exposing the harm done to US soldiers in Vietnam by the Pentagon's use of Agent Orange. In 1979 Stauber co-founded Stop Project E.L.F., organizing citizen and political opposition to the US Navy's nuclear first-strike communications system called ELF; he was the Co-Director of the organization until 1985.

From 1985 to 1988 Stauber was the first Development Director for Wisconsin Coordinating Council on Nicaragua, assisting and promoting sister-city relationships between the US and Nicaragua at the time of the USA's "Contra War" against that country. From 1988 until 1993 he was National Organizer and Researcher for the Foundation on Economic Trends exposing and opposing the commercialization of Monsanto's genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone.

The BGH work inspired Stauber to start the Center for Media and Democracy in 1993 after he was spied upon by Burson-Marsteller employees, the huge lobby and PR firm working for the companies developing Bovine Growth Hormone.

In 2009 John Stauber retired from CMD. He now works as a consultant developing strategy and infrastructure for social change. From May, 2010 to May, 2011 Stauber helped to establish the Food Rights Network). In 2011 and 2012 he advised Single Payer Action in filing a US Supreme Court brief challenging Obama's corporate insurance mandate.

Books by John Stauber

Stauber co-authored six books for the Center for Media and Democracy between 1995 and 2006. They are:

  • Toxic Sludge Is Good For You! Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry
  • Mad Cow U.S.A.
  • Trust Us, We're Experts! How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles With Your Future
  • Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq
  • Banana Republicans: How the Right Wing Is Turning America Into a One-Party State
  • The Best War Ever: Lies, Damned Lies and the Mess in Iraq

External articles

2010 - 2012

  • Erik Gunn, Exposing ALEC: The Center for Media and Democracy goes after the right-wing powerhouse, Isthmus, May 10, 2012.
  • "The Insider," Manufacturing Dissent Inconvenient Truths About Tar Sands Action, Counterpunch, April 24, 2012.
  • "The Insider," MoveOn’s 99 Percent Spring, Obama and the Dems March in Lock-Step, Counterpunch, April 12, 2012.
  • Flawed Red Meat Study: You Are What Your Food Ate, Alliance for Natural Health, March 20, 2012.
  • "The Insider," 99Spring the Latest MoveOn Front for the Democratic Party, Counterpunch, March 16, 2012.
  • Sara Jerving, New Toxic Sludge PR and Lobbying Effort Gets Underway, PRWatch, March 16, 2012.
  • Cornucopia Institute Celebrity Doctor, Alan Greene, Accused of Unethical Conduct, Cornucopia Institute News Release, March 6, 2012.
  • US situation in Iraq up in the air, Iranian PressTV, December 19, 2011
  • Gavin Aronsen, Occupy's Next Target: The Iowa Caucus, Mother Jones, December 19, 2011
  • Andrew Levine, This Time, Let’s Really Crash the Party, CounterPunch, October 31, 2011.
  • Steve Horn, MoveOn.Org and Friends Attempt to Co-Opt Occupy Wall Street Movement, Truthout, October 11, 2011
  • John Nichols, Should Obama Face a Challenge in the Democratic Primary?, The Nation magazine, October 24, 2011 edition.
  • Steve Horn, Pentagon Back to Tried and True PR Tactic: Greenwashing, DeSmog Blog, September 25, 2011.
  • Jill Richardson, Why Is the Monterey Aquarium Greenwashing Sewage Sludge?, FireDogLake, May 19, 2011.
  • Jeffrey St. Clair, How Green Became the Color of Money: A Concise History of the Rise and Fall of the Environmental EstablishmentHow Green Became the Color of Money, Counterpunch, April 22, 2011.
  • Josh Harkinson, Is Your Organic Compost Really Sewage Sludge?, Mother Jones, 4/27/11.
  • Michael Barbarop, In Elite Library Archives, a Dispute Over a Trove, New York Times, April 22, 2011.
  • Toby Wollin, Would You Like A Bit Of Heavy Metal With That?, FireDogLake, April 12, 2011.
  • Shawn Doherty, Vital Signs: Will health care reform crash after Massachusetts election?, Capital Times, January 20, 2010.
  • Suzanne Goldenberg, US chef Alice Waters criticised over sewage fertiliser: Top US healthy-eating chef Alice Waters attacked for supporting fertiliser made of sewage that activists say contains toxins, UK Guardian, April 1, 2010.
  • Peter Fimrite, Groups make stink over S.F. 'biosolid' compost, SF Chronicle, April 7, 2010.
  • Jill Richardson, Francesca Takes Legal Action over Sludge Article, La Vida Locavore blog, April 7, 2010.
  • Leora Broydo Vestel, Food Groups Clash Over Compost Sludge, New York Times Green Inc. blog, April 9 2010.
  • Barry Estabrook, Composted Sewage Stirs Up Bay Area Food Fight, The Atlantic, May 3, 2010.
  • Mari Margil, "Democracy Matters" New Podcast for October 21, 2010 - with our interview with John Stauber, CELDEF blog, October 21, 2010
  • Straight from the Sewer, Next American City, November 10, 2010.
  • Karyn Spory John Stauber gives UNI an inside look at the public relations world, The Northern Iowan, November 11, 2010.

2009 and Earlier

You can view online scores of blogs Stauber wrote for PR Watch from 2004 to 2009.

You can view online video interviews with Stauber including a 2004 GNN.TV piece and a September 2006 interview during a book speaking tour.

In 2007 Stauber organized the Defend the Press campaign which won a major free speech victory against the Bush Administration's efforts to intimidate journalists reporting on dissent in the military.

Stauber's articles, op-eds and interviews have appeared in scores of publications and websites. He has contributed research and writing to books by others including G.I. Guinea Pigs and Secrets and Lies. As an investigator and author he has been featured, interviewed or quoted by the PBS News Hour, Washington Post, New York Times, Der Spiegel, International Herald Tribune, USA Today, Business Week, NPR's On The Media, CNN, NPR's On Point, CBC, Democracy Now and other news media.

Select Blogs By John Stauber

  • John Stauber, The Genius of Recall, CounterPunch, June 8, 2012.
  • John Stauber, America's Mad Cow Crisis, Common Dreams, April 26, 2012.
  • John Stauber, 'Occupy Obama' Could Turn Up Heat on Democrats, Common Dreams, October 21, 2011.
  • John Stauber, Obama's Cheerleaders Fall on their Faces,, November 3, 2010.
  • John Stauber, Chez Sludge: How the Sewage Sludge Industry Bedded Alice Waters,, July 9, 2010.
  • John Stauber, ACSH Makes Alice Waters a Poster Child for Toxic Sludge,, April 12, 2010.
  • John Stauber, Chef Alice Waters and Chez Panisse in a Toxic Sludge Protest,, March 31, 2010.
  • John Stauber, Waiter, There Is Toxic Sludge in my Organic Soup!,, March 16, 2010.
  • John Stauber, Tea Party Money-Bomb Elects Scott Brown, Blows-Up Obamacare, January 19, 2010.
  • John Stauber, Where's the Outrage Over Obama's Health Care Propagandist, Jonathan Gruber?, January 14, 2010.
  • John Stauber, Beyond MoveOn: Using the Internet for Real Change, April 27, 2009.
  • John Stauber, How Obama Took Over the Peace Movement, March 27, 2009.
  • John Stauber, Obama and HCAN Marginalize Single Payer Health Care Reform, March 17, 2009.
  • John Stauber, Take This Job and Love It, February 23, 2009.
  • John Stauber, Winter Soldier, September 23, 2008.
  • John Stauber, Stauber Interviews Sirota, July 8, 2008.
  • John Stauber, Pentagon's Propaganda Documents Go Online, May 6, 2008.
  • John Stauber, Imbedding Military Propagandists into the News Media, April 22, 2008.
  • John Stauber, Iraq, the 'Gift' That Keeps on Bleeding, August 20, 2007.
  • John Stauber, Coffee with the Troops Fuels Debate and Netroots and the War, August 6, 2007.
  • John Stauber, Democratic Spin Won't End the War in Iraq, May 24, 2007.
  • John Stauber, Iraq: Why Won't MoveOn Move Forward?, March 18, 2007
  • John Stauber, A Victory for Press Freedom in the Ehren Watada Court Martial, February 4, 2007.
  • John Stauber, Defend the Press and Sarah Olson, January 27, 2007.
  • John Stauber, Half of Americans Still Believe in WMDs, They Saw Them on TV, August 8, 2006.
  • John Stauber, John Rendon's Long Strange Trip in the Terror Wars, July 10, 2006.
  • John Stauber, US "Atypical" Mad Cow Threat Was Predicted, June 14, 2006.
  • John Stauber, Oprah Not "The Only Mad Cow In America," Thanks to Texas Governor Perry, June 30, 2005

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. CMD Website Accessed June 24, 2010.
  2. The Propaganda Model: a retrospective, Journalism Studies, Volume 1, Number 1, 2000, pp. 101–112, Edward S. Herman, University of Pennsylvania, USA
  3. The Sludge Hits the Fan, chapter from Toxic Sludge Is Good for You!, 1995, Common Courage Press.
  4. CMD Website Accessed June 24, 2010.
  5. CMD website accessed March 22, 2011.
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