Martha Rosenberg

Martha Rosenberg

Martha Rosenberg is a former advertising copywriter who knows a lot about marketing. She began as an investigative journalist and since has been on TV and radio as a health expert. Martha has taught about drug marketing tactics at a Chicago medical school and is part of the FDA press corps. Her book "Born with a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks, and Hacks Pimp the Public Health," exposes what goes on behind the scenes in the food and drug industries.

Latest by Martha Rosenberg

  • Do You Take A Drug Because A Celebrity Endorses It?

    There’s nothing like a celebrity endorsement to move a drug off the shelves and into the nation’s medicine cabinets. TV personality Joan Lunden and former baseball star Mike Piazza stumped for the allergy pill Claritin, ice skater Dorothy Hamill and track star Bruce Jenner for the pain pill Vioxx, and Sen. Bob Dole, of course, pushed Viagra. Dr. Robert Jarvik hawked Lipitor, singer Wynonna Judd stumped for the diet drug Alli and Brooke Shields pushed the eyelash lengthener Latisse. Celebrities even pushed psychiatric drugs like NASCAR figure Bobby Labonte who promoted the antidepressant Wellbutrin XL. And who can forget Kathleen Turner sharing her battle with rheumatoid arthritis on CNN? Ka-ching.


    But what happens when things go awry? Did Dorothy …

  • Is Slamming the Jail Door Shut Mental Health Treatment? No Says Rep. Patrick Kennedy




    This month, mental health and correctional professionals from all over the nation gathered in Chicago to address a problem that many are not aware of. People denied mental health services who end up homeless or incarcerated as criminals. The conference, called “The Cost of Doing Nothing,” sponsored by the Kennedy Forum was held at Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton. The Kennedy Forum was founded to enlist business leaders and government agencies in fully implementing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which has been amended by the Affordable Care Act, to guarantee equal access to medical care and help patients understand their rights.


    “I have been out to Cook County Jail myself,” Rep. Kennedy …

  • How The NRA Keeps Guns in the Hands of Dangerous People

    After the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre in which 33 died, the National Rifle Association supported a federal law to make it harder for people with mental illness to get guns. Killer Seung-Hui Cho had been declared mentally ill by a Virginia special justice but was still allowed to purchase guns because he was not institutionalized.


    There was just one catch. The NRA’s support was contingent on legal provisions to restore “gun rights” to those who lost them for mental health reasons.


    An early example of such restoration was Virginian Sam French who was hospitalized by court order four times in five years and told authorities he hears voices and talks to bears but got his guns back anyway

  • Do You Sleep With Your Dog?

     A few years ago, a polling group made a startling discovery about America’s dog love. A surprising number of dog owners called their answering machines during the workday to talk to their dog. Many celebrated their dogs’ birthdays with gifts and parties. And most slept with their dog–unapologetically. It’s no dirtier than sleeping with a shoe said one respondent.



    And speaking of dirty, no poll was required to know that many dog owners also kiss their dogs on the mouth.


    It is easy to love dogs. They are the last of the optimists, humorist Erma Bombeck used to say. They rush the door when the bell rings and the visitor is never there to see them. They …

  • Are You Supporting This Cruel and Dumb Charity?

    Just in time for Halloween, Heifer International’s new catalogue arrived in the mail. Heifer International is a Little Rock-based Christian charity that “ends hunger and poverty” through sending live animals to poor people overseas. The charity is known for its Unicef style photos of cute kids hugging their cute animals which will soon be dinner.


    In a recent documentary, Cowspiracy, even CEOs and feedlot managers say animal agriculture is too resource and land intensive to feed the world. Yet Heifer thinks it is a great idea to send live animals to countries without veterinarians, paved roads, health systems, education (to prevent animal-to-human disease transmission) and refrigeration for the animal products. If the countries had the food and resources to care …

  • Why Millennials May Be Walking Away from McDonald’s


    Since its founding in the 1940s, McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant, has navigated many threats to its bottom line. Other fast food companies have imitated and sought to improve on its concept. Labor activists have decried its treatment of workers. Food and environmental activists have assailed the way it has industrialized food production. The international community has deplored McDonald’s trade practices and protectionism.   Animal welfare activists oppose its wholesale commodification and mistreatment of animals. And, of course, public health experts condemn its hawking of unhealthy, fattening food to children and adults.


    But despite public relations risks to its people-loving, children-loving image, McDonald’s has continued to please Wall Street thanks to its billion dollar advertising budget and 14,000 …

  • Animal Abuse Bad Enough for Tyson and the Pork Council but Not the DA?

     The cruelty against pigs videotaped at West Coast Farms in Oklahoma last year was so sickening Tyson Foods immediately dropped the supplier. The National Pork Producers Council demanded that authorities “bring criminal charges against workers who abused animals.” Yet a year later, workers have apparently not been charged and may have fled town as the Creek County District Attorney’s office drags its feet.


    Video shot at the West Coast Farms in Okfuskee County by an undercover worker for Mercy For Animals last year “shows pigs being kicked, hit, and thrown, as well as pigs being slammed into the floor to kill them,” said NBC news. “On three separate occasions, I reported abuse to the owner,” said the undercover …

  • Communities Brace For More Bodies in Serial Sex Slayings



    Chicago, IL


    At least seven women’s bodies have been found in Indiana since Friday in what appear to be serial, sex-related murders of women in high-risk lifestyles. Hammond police are holding Darren Vann, a convicted sex offender, in connection with the murders and say charges are possible in at least six other murders still under investigation.


    Many in the Chicago and northern Indiana area remember similar killings in the 1990s which produced a veritable reign of terror for women in high-risk lifestyles and their families. At least four men arrested in Chicago during that time–Gregory Clepper, Geoffrey Griffin, Hubert Geralds and Andre Crawford–were linked to the deaths of women in high-risk lifestyles who were often found in …

  • Candidates Against High “Taxes” Seldom Talk About Gun-Related Taxes



    A dairyman and career capitalist are trying to unseat Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn in Illinois, respectively, with screeds against “career politicians” and higher taxes.

    The “career politician” epithet sounds populist and appealing until you look at its opposite: bumbling, naïve, politician-wannabes who embarrass themselves like the Tea Party Congressman who mistook U.S. government officials for foreign diplomats from India and the Tea Party candidate who mistook a bus full of YMCA kids for immigrants last summer.


    Capitalist, “let’s run this country like a business” politician-wannabes like H. Ross Perot to Mitt Romney are even worse. In addition to lacking political savvy from ever being in Washington, these “richies” lack basic understanding of the common man, …

  • Why Are Chicago Religious Leaders Supporting a Pro-Gun Candidate?


    Guns have killed over 10,000 in Illinois in the last ten years and in Chicago, it is a daily blood bath, especially in minority neighborhoods. Yet five weeks ago, two prominent religious leaders from crime ridden communities, Larry Trotter of Sweet Holy Spirit Church and Pastor Corey Brooks, Sr. of New Beginnings Church endorsed a senate candidate who is, amazingly, against universal background checks!


    Jim Oberweis, an Illinois Republican State Senator from the 25th District who is challenging Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin actually told the Chicago Tribune editorial board this week that he has not seen “evidence” that background checks would reduce crime. Since guns sold without background checks represent 40 percent of all gun sales, Sen. Oberweis must …

  • Are Deer Safe to Eat?


     States Make Money off Deer Despite Safety Questions


    It has been ten years since a “hunter-terrorist” ruined deer season in Wisconsin. In the fall of 2004, instead of shooting deer, Chai Vang, a Hmong immigrant from Laos, shot and killed hunters. Eight hunters were shot in northern Wisconsin, six of whom died including a father and son. No clear motive for the murders became apparent but Vang, a hunting enthusiast, was tried, convicted and sentenced to six consecutive life terms plus seventy years.


    Vang’s rampage was especially disturbing because Wisconsin was just pulling out of an epidemic of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in its deer and elk, a fatal disease similar to Mad Cow. State officials assured …

  • Hey, Mayor de Blasio! What Ever Happened to the Carriage Horse Ban?

    Activists urge de Blasio to ban carriage horses | Crain's New Yo


    by Robert Wilbur and Martha Rosenberg

    Last year, a coalition of animal lovers seeking to ban Manhattan’s carriage horse industry helped defeat Christine Quinn, once the front-runner for mayor, because she opposed such a prohibition. Mayor de Blasio, who beat Quinn, pledged his first action as mayor would be to ban the controversial rides. Yet where is the ban?


    Last month about 30 protesters gathered across from Gracie Mansion to exhort Mayor de Blasio to fulfill his campaign promise. New York’s carriage horses are “stripped of the ability to do anything horses would naturally do. They don’t belong here in the city,” said Donny Moss, a member of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages “It’s in humane and unsafe.”…

  • 42 shot, 5 dead in Chicago last weekend but gun zealots say “carrying” is reducing crime





    Open and concealed “carrying” lowers crime because the bad guys know they better not try anything. It is pretty much a gun zealot catechism ever since John Lott’s More Guns Less Crime, published in 1998. Lott lost credibility when he was unable to produce data or records showing a survey he cited in the book actually existed and for creating an online “sock puppet” named “Mary Rosh” to defend himself against online charges of lax methodology.


    But the myth of carriers deterring bad guys continues. This week, the Washington Times perpetuated the self-flattering fantasy by noting that “the number of robberies that have led to arrests in Chicago has declined 20 percent from last year” and the reason …

  • Victim of Chicago Killer, John Gacy, Becomes Author and Survivor Activist




    About 45 people gathered on a hot August night at a Chicago LBGT community center  to hear a chapter in Chicago history that is often forgotten–how John Gacy prowled the streets of Chicago’s northside from 1972 through 1978, picking up young men and murdering at least 33 of them. Gacy, one of the most vicious mass murderers in U.S. history, was found guilty of the murders, sentenced to death and executed by lethal injection at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois on May 10, 1994.


    Author and activist Patrick Dati spoke about his acclaimed memoir, I Am Me: Survivor of Child Abuse and Bullying Speaks Out which recounts how Dati overcame a life of bullying and emotional …

  • Should People Watch the Animals They Eat Slaughtered?



    In Omaha, Nebraska, there is a proposal on the table for people buying meat to choose an animal and watch it being slaughtered.  But many are saying this encourages insensitivity and lack of empathy for suffering, whether human or animal. Many anthropologists say there is a strong cultural link between barbaric treatment of animals and barbaric treatment of humans–agony and terror no longer disturb people because they have become used to it.


    Since the United States and other countries moved from an agrarian society to an urban one, many complain that kids think chicken nuggets grow on trees and that they have no awareness or respect for the fact than an animal died to make lunch.  Because meat …

  • Author of New Book Discusses Shame and Codependency



    Codependents often have trouble being open, honest and assertive with intimate partners says Darlene Lancer, an author and marriage and family therapist. In trying to manage, control and manipulate others, often by “people pleasing” or giving advice, codependents can “turn themselves into pretzels,” says Lancer.  Now, in her latest book, Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You, Lancer addresses the role of shame and especially childhood shame experiences in codependency.


    Martha Rosenberg: Your recent book about shame and codependency brings to mind popular books written by John Bradshaw on the topics 25 years ago, some of which even became PBS specials. What new perspectives does your book bring to the topic?


    Darlene Lancer: …

  • Many Asking if Cage-free Eggs Are More Humane After Deathly Fire


    by Merritt Clifton

    FORT WAYNE, Indiana––A predawn fire on July 28, 2014 killed 65,000 hens at an Egg Innovations barn in Kosciusko County, Indiana, reviving attention to a two-year-old National Fire Protection Association proposal to require sprinkler systems in farm animal housing.

    “Flames were showing. Probably shooting in the air about 20 feet,” Atwood fire chief Mike Harmon told WANE-TV of Fort Wayne.

    The Kosciusko County barn had been acquired by Egg Innovations about a year and a half before the fire, local media reported.  The dead hens were about four weeks from being introduced to egg production.

    “Though Egg Innovations bills itself as a ‘free range’ and ‘certified humane’ facility, this tragedy sheds light on the deceptiveness of …

  • Are US Executions Really Humane? Robert Wilbur/Martha Rosenberg



    As the nation is horrified by another botched execution, a capital defense lawyer in Texas, legal scholar in New York and the former warden of San Quentin work against capital punishment.




    Robert Wilbur and Martha Rosenberg



    There were only three people in the room: Jeanne Woodford, the chaplain and the man strapped to a gurney with tubes coming out of his arms. After hearing the man’s last words, Woodford signaled the corrections officer who was “working the chemicals,” which means in prison argot that he started infusions of lethal chemicals that flowed into the man on the gurney. As warden of California’s San Quentin, Woodford presided over this high-tech ritual of punishment four times. After a …

  • Can You Imagine “Forgetting” You Have a Gun? It Happens All the Time at Airports



    It is happening more and more. T.S.A. screeners at the airport, in addition to finding hidden bottles of shampoo, are finding guns that passengers “forgot.” It is “a vivid indication of the normalization of casual gun-ownership,” said the New York Times this week. “Airports in states with lax gun laws tend to have the highest incidence of firearms at checkpoints.”


    Last year, a Littlestown man on his way to Music City USA was found to have a loaded gun in his carry-on bag at the Baltimore–Washington International Airport. The wife of rock musician and NRA board member Ted (“Obama is a subhuman mongrel”) Nugent was caught with a gun in her carry-on luggage at the Dallas airport. At …

  • Vioxx Scandal Not Over as Merck returns to Court Over Charges of Bone Harm



    It has been a decade since Merck’s “super-aspirin” Vioxx was withdrawn from the market after a study showed it doubled the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Heavily advertised by celebrity athletes like Dorothy Hamill and Bruce Jenner and used by approximately 20 million patients, estimates of the heart attacks caused by Vioxx range from 27,000 to up to 140,000. The Vioxx scandal made Merck the poster child for deceptive marketing because the cardiovascular risk data was deliberately withheld from the FDA, medical journals and the drug-taking public and their doctors according to news reports. In 2010, Merck compensated 20,591 heart attack and 12,447 stroke plaintiffs out of a $4.85 billion settlement fund.


    Now, in an improbable …