John Stauber

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John Stauber retired after four decades as an organizer, investigative writer, public speaker, and co-author of six books. He founded the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and PRWatch 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.[1]

Stauber served for sixteen years as CMD's Executive Director, fundraiser and on its board of directors, retiring from it in July, 2009. He is a contributor to the US magazine and website Counterpunch.

Current Advisory Boards


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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. [4] Stauber co-authored six books for CMD beginning with 1995's Toxic Sludge Is Good for You! [5] and including the 2003 New York Times best seller Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq [6]

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 Jeremy Rifkin's 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 John Stauber to found 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. Stauber retired after running CMD for 16 years.

Books by John Stauber

Select Blogs, Articles and Talks By, and Interviews With, John Stauber

External articles






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.

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. The Propaganda Model: a retrospective, Journalism Studies, Volume 1, Number 1, 2000, pp. 101–112, Edward S. Herman, University of Pennsylvania, USA
  2. Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund Board, organizational web page, accessed October 7 2017.
  3. Fluoride Action Network Team, organizational web page, accessed May 11, 2014.
  4. The Sludge Hits the Fan, chapter from Toxic Sludge Is Good for You!, 1995, Common Courage Press.
  5. CMD Website Accessed June 24, 2010.
  6. CMD website accessed March 22, 2011.