Jack, I'm guessing Kim wouldn't argue that dropping hundreds of free subs puts a crimp in circulation, but he'd probably disagree with the characterization that circulation almost "died." I mean, I know the circulation figures through the Journal's history, and even in its worst-selling issues it remained popular enough to stay (at times barely) profitable.
I'd agree that it's hard to make arguments for its significant impact across the industry. It's paid reasonable attention to by an important cross-section of industry figures, readers, and pros. But the industry is so different now that there's no widespread sense of professional solidarity or interest in what may constitute good work. The professionals are almost all mercenaries, and the artists just want to be told how great they are. It's too bad, but it's pretty much what it's like everywhere in the new century. Tell an industry that DC is making secret deals to potentially buy a distributor which is making deals with them as if that weren't going on, and the industry doesn't really care. Give a collection of artists and readers a reasonably compelling take on a century's worth of art, and people dig after the gossipy parts. Oh well.
You're dead-on about the shilling for FBI product -- damn you're smart, Jack.