Klaus Kocks

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Nuclear spin.png This article is part of the Nuclear Spin project of Spinwatch.

Klaus Kocks is a former chief spin doctor for the German nuclear industry.

Defending lying

In March 2006 Spinwatch reported on Kocks' approach to his profession:

'As a spin doctor' he said 'I'm strongly opposed to discriminating against lying'. Speaking to a seminar organised by the Swiss Journalism School in Lucerne on March 17/18, Kocks stated his view that 'the development of capitalism needed a "doppelmoral" - double standards - right from the beginning'. It is only, says Koch, 'a neurotic obsession of calvinistic witch hunters ' to 'discriminate against' and 'delegitimise' lying. Koch is former spin doctor for Volkswagen and for the Herstelle und Betreibs der Atomkraftwerke in Deutschland, the body responsible for building and running all Germany's 19 nuclear power plants. Among the companies operating the power plants are Eon and RWE, both of which have interests in the UK nuclear industry and own other firms in the UK. Eon owns Powergen and RWE owns nPower and Thames Water.
Kocks pushes a relativist case arguing that 'Spin doctoring is a privately financed public service provided by communication professionals to support markets that are in need of storytelling to enhance somebody’s business or the economy as a whole'.
There is, he says 'no such thing as story-free markets' If you don't believe him you are possibly a victim of the 'facts and figures myth' which is 'quite popular with scholars'. In reality, says Kocks, there are only varying stories. Of course this is where his whole relativist house of cards starts to shake, if we ask whether the view that there are really only stories is true or just another story.
Kocks told the conference the story of three spin doctors for the alcohol, tobacco and arms industries debating which of their employers is responsible for the most killing. Applying ethical standards to these industries he notes is still 'killing', but 'by ethical standards. It doesn't end the killing'.
For Kocks, therefore, corporate governance is simply a case of 'keeping up appearances'. The most important rule is 'don't get caught'. Kocks also confirmed the view of critics of the PR industry who maintain that it undermines democracy. He noted that 'When there is no election, no-one gives a damn what the electorate thinks'
Kocks uses his devotion to lies as a selling point. He is quite happy to provoke criticism and positively revels in critical commentary on the PR industry. 'The whiff of sulphur' encourages journalists to take more interest in his messages, he says.
When asked whether there were differences between his view and that of defenders of the PR industry who emphasise 'ethical' PR or 'two way symmetrical communication', Kocks replied that this was only really a question of messaging strategy and that there were no real differences.
No doubt those worried about the safety of nuclear energy will be relieved to hear that those who say it is safe, cheap and environmentally friendly are simply engaged in a messaging strategy.