Sunday, April 20, 2008

That program is still running

In the excellent New York Times story showing how a media-military-industrial complex was allowed to dominate cable news coverage of Iraq, there is an account of one specific propaganda session that was held with Don Rumsfeld and the cable news military analysts ("message force multipliers") in April 2006 --

At another point, an analyst made a suggestion: “In one of your speeches you ought to say, ‘Everybody stop for a minute and imagine an Iraq ruled by Zarqawi.’ And then you just go down the list and say, ‘All right, we’ve got oil, money, sovereignty, access to the geographic center of gravity of the Middle East, blah, blah, blah.’ If you can just paint a mental picture for Joe America to say, ‘Oh my God, I can’t imagine a world like that.’ ”

Even as they assured Mr. Rumsfeld that they stood ready to help in this public relations offensive, the analysts sought guidance on what they should cite as the next “milestone” that would, as one analyst put it, “keep the American people focused on the idea that we’re moving forward to a positive end.” They placed particular emphasis on the growing confrontation with Iran.

These two messages -- that al Qaeda could take over the government of Iraq and be in charge of its oil and that the real enemy in Iraq is Iran -- have dominated the public statements of George Bush (example) and Dick Cheney since 2006. This is despite the fact that George Bush now says he was lying in 2006 when he was making upbeat statements about Iraq i.e. that things on the ground really were as bad as the supposedly negative regular reporters said they were. Yet the message crafted to combat that acknowledged truth still dominates official pronouncements.

Also, the idea that "Joe America" needed some simple messages to help him understand the war in the Iraq sounds like the sort of thing that only elitist Democrats speaking in San Francisco would say about the great unwashed. Very strange.

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