Military Pays Iraqi Media To Run Favorable Stories

Military Pays Iraqi Media To Run Favorable Stories

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If this story proves true, it’ll be a major blow to our credibility in Iraq, and could serve to further undermine our mission both there and all over the Middle East.

In other words, credibility is vital and we don’t seem to care or realize this.

More of my thoughts are over at The Moderate Voice.

  • This&That

    Odd. When having the miltary pass out/pay for factual information in local media in Kosovo there was no problem with it….

    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0PBZ/is_5_84/ai_n7069240

    “In support of the Multi-National Brigade–East MNB(E) peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, the Army conducted information operations to affect the flow and content of information in the area of responsibility (AOR) and achieved information superiority by disseminating timely, truthful information to key local leaders and populace groups. The operational advantage gained by information superiority was the local populace’s support for MNB(E) operations.”

    “MNB(E) operations were constrained to nonlethal means. To support maneuver operations, MNB(E) employed tactical PSYOP teams, a public affairs detachment, civil affairs (CA) tactical support teams, combat camera teams, medical treatment teams, unit commanders, and unit patrols. These dissimilar IO assets used disparate means, such as PSYOP loudspeaker operations and handbills; radio broadcasts; press releases and media events; medical assistance programs; reconstruction and short-term employment projects; face-to-face meetings; and force presence. The challenge of information operations was to translate these means into focused capabilities that fulfilled the commander’s intent.”

    “MNB(E)’s primary IO-capable assets were–

    * A PSYOP company, which focused on influencing the attitudes, perceptions, and behavior of Kosovo’s indigenous populace. Tactical PSYOP teams conducted loudspeaker operations and faceto-face and other direct PSYOP product dissemination. The company’s PSYOP dissemination detachment produced handbills, posters, and other print products as well as radio and TV programming.”

    Why I bet they even “paid” some local newspapers to print their stories….

    So did this tactic become “….a major blow to our credibility in Iraq [Kosovo], and could serve to further undermine our mission….” when used in Kosovo? No?

    Hmmmm. Oh it will be a problem NOW after the various Lefties spin turn it into pro-terrorist anti-USA propaganda.

    But then Bush is in the WhiteHouse so obviously the tactic is Evil.

    Sigh. Who needs enemies with friends like these?

    This&That

  • Joshua

    I’ve seen this story discussed on other blogs, and what Justin has described doesn’t quite tell the whole story.

    Apparently the real purpose of this “information offensive” is to influence not the Iraqi people but America’s own MSM, who gather much of their Iraq-war scoops from Iraqi and Arab media. In other words, the goal is to shore up support for the war on the homefront (where it’s needed the most) rather than in Iraq itself.

    Producing war propaganda for the home front is nothing new. (“Why We Fight”, anyone?) The only thing novel about the Iraqi “information offensive” is in its roundabout methodology – propaganda by osmosis, you could call it. It was a clever try – but of course, now that the secret’s out the value of this tactic has pretty much disappeared.

  • sleipner

    Why not? This administration has been paying the media in OUR country to run stories favorable to its (ridiculous) opinions, so why not there?

  • Monica

    Paying to play factual stories? What’s exactly is the problem?

  • sleipner

    There’s a huge difference between propaganda and fact. In Iraq it sounds as if the stories are true, but that they are written in such a way to make the facts sound better than they truly are – i.e. the usual Republican (ok, politician) media spin that we’ve been increasingly blitzed with since 1998 or so.

  • Chris

    Speaking of spin, This&That does a great job in his own right. Everything he describes that went on in Kosovo is plain old public relations (and I work in PR, so it’s not a dirty word to me.) The big difference in what we’re doing in Iraq is paying the news media to run stories. So how does that compare to Kosovo? “Why I bet they even “paidâ€Â? some local newspapers to print their stories.”

    Funny how the central fact that supports his thesis came out of his ass.

    That said, I’m not as horrified as some people by the whole thing. It’s not something we should tolerate here, but when fighting a war it seems like a pretty mild tactic. And I say this as one who is very opposed to the war.

  • http://www.kozoru.com Justin Gardner

    As I stated before, this certainly hurts our credibility AND the credibility of those news sources.

    So what will the Iraqis think when they pick up their papers? That’s the point. Imagine if you knew your papers were actually getting paid to write stories favorable to the adminstration. We saw it recently with Armstrong Williams. He’s disgraced now. So too will be these Iraqi papers, and a stable and trustworthy media is vital in any Democracy.

    Also, it bugs since this is exactly what SHOULDN’T be happening in a democracy? This is Saddam regime nonsense, and everybody knows it.

  • http://www.kozoru.com Justin Gardner

    Paying to play factual stories? What’s exactly is the problem?

    And by the way, you’re kidding, right Monica?

  • Monica

    Justin –

    No, I’m not kidding. In a war, I don’t have a problem with paying to play factual stories.

    It wouldn’t be acceptable to do this in the United States, but a war is going on in Iraq. That changes everything.

    It’s not as if we’re planting false stories, and your reaction gives support to that very off based message. I don’t get understand it.

  • http://www.kozoru.com Justin Gardner

    Monica, I think the fact that they’re factual is much better than if they were false, but it’s still dirty poker.

    I guess initially I was caught off guard by your response because it was so non-chalant. But now that I know you really don’t understand why this could be very damaging to our credibility in Iraq and the region, I’m even more curious why you are so seemingly blaise. And if you seriously don’t understand the implications of paying newspapers in a country you invaded to run stories, I don’t know that I can really explain it to you.

  • Monica

    Justin –

    I think you should’ve said … And if you seriously don’t understand the implications of paying newspapers in a country you invaded to run FACTUAL stories, I don’t know that I can really explain it to you.”

    That would’ve been more accurate.

    I understand the implications, but I weigh that against no good stories being printed and choose the former. What is your solution? I’d be interested to hear it.