International Propaganda Machine

Earlier, I noted a story that reported the US military is paying to plant articles in Iraqi newspapers. Well, some enterprising media hound apparently asked Scotty about it:

President Bush’s spokesman said Thursday “we’re very concerned” about reports that the U.S. military is paying Iraqi newspapers and journalists to plant favorable stories about the war and the rebuilding effort.

“We are seeking more information from the Pentagon,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.
Just a few more bad apples, I’ll wager.

In Baghdad on Thursday, a senior military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, was asked whether he thought the program undercuts the credibility of either the American military or the new Iraqi news media. Lynch did not answer directly but quoted a senior al-Qaida leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, as having told Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the main terrorist leader in Iraq, “Remember, half the battle is the battlefield of the media.”

Lynch said Zarqawi lies to the Iraqi people and he said the American military does not.

“We do empower our operational commanders with the ability to inform the Iraqi public, but everything we do is based on fact not based on fiction,” Lynch said.

Details about the program were first reported by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. It marked the second time this year that Pentagon programs have come under scrutiny for reported payments made to journalists for favorable press.
Of course, Iraq isn’t the only place pay-for-press has happened, is it? The Bush administration was found guilty of violating the prohibition on using taxpayer money for propaganda after the Office of National Drug Control Policy produced and distributed television news segments about the effects of drug use among young people, and was also found guilty of the dissemination of covert propaganda after paying columnist Armstrong Williams to produce favorable coverage of No Child Left Behind. Later, it was revealed the Bush administration had also paid synidacted columnists Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus to endorse a Bush-approved marriage initiative. Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, ordered the removal of the words gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender from the title of a talk about preventing suicide in the GLBT community, and at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, made and distributed hundreds of television news segments during Bush’s first term, with many of them ending up in local news broadcasts across the country, without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production.

I think at this point it’s safe to say that integrity isn’t really Bush’s strong suit. Nor honesty. Nor reality. So when I hear that they’re “very concerned” about the military paying for favorable press, I suspect that really means they’re “very pissed off” about getting busted. Again.

(By the way, “everything we do is based on fact not based on fiction”? Good one, Lynch.)

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