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Why Charlie Sheen and Muammar Qaddafi aren’t winning the media

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Still, mass media remain catnip for celebrities and public figures, particularly for autocrats such as Mr. Qaddafi or Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, because that's how they have controlled and influenced people or fans, writes Rosanna Fiske of the Public Relations Society of America, in an e-mail.

"This also leads some public figures to believe that they are media darlings, meaning the media loves them, which often isn't the case at all."

That may help explain why Qaddafi late last month told three hand-chosen reporters that Libya was trouble-free – even as a flood of other news reports presented irrefutable evidence of fierce battles between rebels and pro-Qaddafi forces. And why Mr. Sheen, whose bad-boy antics and addiction struggles are legendary, continues his multimedia blitz, including a March 7 "news conference" from atop a building in downtown Los Angeles while waving a machete, and a webcast tirade against the studio and production firm that fired him.

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