PROPAGANDA or PREPARATION? Behind Bush's staged teleconference
Above: Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Allison Barber coaches the soldiers, later insisting that the event wasn't rehearsed. Barber also runs the Pentagon Channel and claims to have no political agenda.
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PROPAGANDA or good PREPARATION?
That STAGED press conference wasn't the worst thing Bush has done. I admit it. Political manipulation of the media has occurred since the invention of the press itself. And yeah, yeah, we'd all love to have a President that could speak to the public in an inspiring and "presidential" way... instead we get "Bring it on!"... we're all used to it by now.
Sure, this administration may have raised the bar in terms of media savvy, good for them. What bothers me however is how the expectation of media manipulation leads to a real complacency amongst the mainstream press. Nobody really cries foul when something as absurd as Thursday's "teleconference" occurs.
It's not so much the act as the lies. Sure, prep the soldiers for the interview, that's standard. But instead, the prep-session was more of a full-blown rehearsal... everyone knew their lines, and what to do if someone went off-script. Thanks to the inadvertent satellite feed we all got to see exactly how it was done. This WASHINGTON POST account sums it up well.
Where's the LIE? Read on... The teleconference was billed as a "spontaneous" conversation with soldiers. Lie. The press was told that the event would be "unscripted". Lie. After the press (and the world) saw the "extended footage", the administration stuck to it's "spontaneous" story. Lie. On Friday, the White House backed off that story a bit, but hardly admitted the level of "preparation" the soldiers received. Lie. From the White House press briefing:
" Q And regarding yesterday's event with the President and the soldiers in Tikrit, has there been any adjustment in the administration's position about whether or not it was scripted or rehearsed, and what sort of protocols will be followed in the future?"
"MR. McCLELLAN: I think you heard from the troops. The troops that were participating in that event said that they were expressing their own thoughts. So you heard directly from the troops. And these are troops that are on the ground in Iraq, who were giving the President and the American people a firsthand account of the progress that is being made on the ground."
Read the official transcript HERE.
But let's dig into the deception a bit deeper. It gets juicy.
It also seems that the soldier most often quoted in the press (Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo) was not an average "grunt" at all. According to the VILLAGE VOICE , she's a MEDIA SPOKESPERSON for the MILITARY. Of course, she's the one who handled the important sound-bites. From The Voice:
" David Axe, who's made several forays into Iraq for the Voice — read his latest, "Powerless," a dispatch from southern Iraq — knows Corine Lombardo from having spent time in Tikrit. He tells me:
Her job when I was with the 42nd Infantry Division included taking reporters to lunch.
She lives in a fortified compound in Tikrit and rarely leaves.
Many public-affairs types in Iraq never leave their bases, and they're speaking for those who do the fighting and dying."
Allegedly, most of the other soldiers were officers and not average soldiers as well.
Hardly anyone in the press has seriously raised the issue of the White House using the troops for what really amounts to a political TV ad... or simply put, PROPAGANDA. In fact, on the subject of propaganda and TV, people are just now raising questions about the Pentagon's entry into the world of broadcasting with, "THE PENTAGON CHANNEL". Orginally a military-only network, its now being carried by most cable and satellite systems. Apparently they also have a web-broadcast but I can't get THE LINK to work. http://www.pentagonchannel.mil/ .
It's the first time ever that the government has run a state-run news and info TV network that's been available to the general public (reaching 12 million viewers so far). CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 recently raised the question of the legality of the new channel, concerned about a 50+ year law barring the government from creating propaganda.
The PENTAGON CHANNEL, supposedly, is free from White House oversight and has no role in advancing administration policies. However, a transcript at NEWSBUSTERS quotes CNN's Jamie McIntyre reporting:
"MCINTYRE (on camera): The Pentagon Channel originates from studios here in Alexandria, Virginia. There's everything here you'd expect to find in a modern television station, cameras, teleprompters, computers. The one thing it says it doesn't have is an agenda to advance administration policies."
"MCINTYRE: While much of the Pentagon Channel programming is more like CSPAN than CNN, this original documentary called Inside the Wire purports to show that the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo is humane. That argues Professor Begleiter sounds a lot like the Bush administration version of the truth."
"RALPH BEGLEITER, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE: You want to have radio free America or some such hypothetical title, broadcasting propaganda to the United States, no. We don't allow that in this country. It's a law."
"MCINTYRE: He's referring to a 1948 ban that stops the government from controlling the news sent to domestic audiences. A law inspired by abuses in Nazi Germany. But Pentagon officials say the Pentagon Channel is simply internal communications for the military. And rejects the idea its programming is propaganda."
Keep in mind this "internal communications" network is being actively promoted and given away for free to any cable/sat. service provider who wishes to include it with programming.
OK, so there ya go... THE PENTAGON CHANNEL.
Who should run this network? None other than Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Allison Barber... And you guessed it, SHE'S the one coaching the soldiers with lines before the President's Staged Teleconference. Full Circle.
Allison Barber has a background in advertising and PR in Washington DC, and also runs the American Forces Radio and Television, the American Forces Press Service, the Department's Internet web operations, the Defense Media Center, and Stars and Stripes newspaper. She also hosts "Ask the White House", an online forum.
According to this quote from the Washington Times :
"Miss Barber said the Pentagon Channel makes every effort to avoid propaganda charges by, among other practices, offering live coverage of such events as press conferences from beginning to end, while commercial networks will pick up only the sections they deem newsworthy.
"It would be propaganda if we tried to spin it," she said."
Well, she sure spun this live teleconference!!! And did a pretty bad job of it, by the way.
And so, the Pentagon Channel probably has an agenda afterall... doesn't surprise me. Especially with Donald Rumsfeld's frequent complaints about negative press and bad headlines regarding Iraq. Thats gotta sway things a bit I'd think, he's the boss.
I for one, really object to my tax dollars being used in this way... a military issues channel, fine. A network designed and used to promote the Bush Administrations policies in Iraq? Documentaries showing how nice Guantanamo is... promoted as news? NO WAY! Just as sinister is how this propaganda has leeched its way into the mainstream media in the form of the Staged Teleconference. News networks carry this kind of thing because its supposed to be "newsworthy", and it should be news... but what we got the other day was blatant propaganda. Enough is enough. The mainstream media needs to stop accepting this slop from the administration as news, make a stink about it, and demand far more than a schloppy PR gig from the administration as "news from Iraq".
ON TOPIC: Apparently the President inserted a WIRELESS EARPIECE into his ear before the teleconference (photo previous post)... This is kind of important for the topic of THE BULGE. For the first time it shows the President actually using the same technology he allegedly used to cheat during the Presidential Debates of '04.
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