Paying for Good Press

The Washington Post ran an article discussing why the U.S. paid to get fair treatment in the Iraqi media. Although there is no indication that the information contained in them was false, the revelation created outrage among the chattering classes. Personally, I would pay to place friendly articles in the Iraqi media under only two conditions: I would have to have the money and I would have to find journalists would accept it.

Conditions in the Iraqi media are not as fair and balanced as we might find in Fox News. Nowhere in the Arab world do we find a media even remotely free from manipulation. Terrorists threaten the lives of journalist who write the truth. Anti-American journalists never find a fair thing to say about the U.S. The default option is to write negatively about the U.S. It is safer and more rewarding.

The criticism of the pay for placement approach is that somehow this will soil our reputation. How will this happen? How much worse can it get? The only outrage is that we have to pay to get a fair hearing.

In fact, it can only help. Some people may be swayed by the information in articles. We all know that advertising works. If readers in the Arab world learn to mistrust the media because they know it is manipulated - good. It is manipulated and it is about time they found out. Considering the anti-American character of most of the local media, I would be very happy if readers there distrusted everything they read, but I seriously doubt if any intelligent reader in the Middle East doesn’t know already. They are probably wondering why we Americans are so stupid as to not compete.

Posted by Jack at January 15, 2006 5:30 PM
Comments
Comment #113437

Jack,

I couldn’t disagree with you more. Paying for positive media coverage obliterates its credibility. How would you feel if you read a car or restaurant review and found out the writer was bought off? Would you believe a word in it?


Posted by: Woody Mena at January 15, 2006 6:06 PM
Comment #113440

Woody Mena,
I agree with you completely. Even in America some believe that they cannot trust the media to report accurately.

One of the over-riding reasons for freedom of the press is so that it can be trusted to be objective… to keep an eye on the actions of the government and to report what it finds to the people.

Again… is this one of the “chattering classes” ideas? (Talk about contempt for anyone that disagrees or, God forbid, questions the actions of this administration!)

So, we are the “chattering classes” now? Intellectual elites not good enough? Liberals? Whiners?

I bet that is what they thought of us back in the 1770’s, huh? Those “chattering classes” over in the colonies. Always “whining” about this and that.

My very first thought when I head about this scheme was that is would intentionally undermine the independance of the press which is a pretty low tactic to go to.

That this Administration has done it more than once to the Americans with their own covert “news stories” just shows the contempt this administration and Republicans truely have.

Really, come on folks. You are all educated and reasonable. How in any way, shape or form can creating mistrust for the press be a good thing?

Even now, intelligent and informed people are starting to determine the validity and trustworthiness of the information based on wether it is coming from CNN, MSNBC, FOX or whatever.

I can understand being alert to the bias possibility from all the websites that have popped up by people with axes to grind and personal agendas… but the main stream media is supposed to be as honest as they can and as objective as they can… keeping their beliefs for the editorial or commentary portions.

Republicans, I don’t see how undermining the press in a fledging democracy is anything that can be defended. There is not enough options available to them… so why would this administration allow this?

If the US Government wished to run full page paid ads to highlight their accomplishments I would have absolutely no problem with that at all. I would encourage it!

By God! Is there something inheirently wrong with this administration that makes them incapable of being honest? It really is amazing… even when the truth would be the best they choose to lie. Incredible!

Instead, they should have honestly presented their information to the papers and bought ad space. It would have openly allowed the papers to get revenue, clearly defined what was news and what was the American position and information they wanted to get out.

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 15, 2006 6:26 PM
Comment #113444

‘Really, come on folks. You are all educated and reasonable. How in any way, shape or form can creating mistrust for the press be a good thing?’

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 15, 2006 06:26 PM

Who created it? The mistrust? The media themselves.
The U.S. took out what were basically ads in newspapers and ‘the media’ turned the story into what it is now.
Considering the soldiers are closest to the story, not sitting in the green zone, I would think they would know more truth about Iraq than the press(other than Iraqi)does.

Don’t forget that the media gets ‘paid’ to tell stories. They hype them a good part of the time to sell their product and keep themselves working. Is there no bias in that?

Posted by: bugcrazy at January 15, 2006 6:54 PM
Comment #113446

bugcrazy,
Are you up to speed on this issue? Here’s a recap: Military Says It Paid Iraq Papers for News

The U.S. took out what were basically ads in newspapers and ‘the media’ turned the story into what it is now.
The military paid not only for ads but also for Iraqi journalists to write positive pieces about the US. The problem is that none of these ads or opinion pieces revealed who was paying for them.
Considering the soldiers are closest to the story, not sitting in the green zone, I would think they would know more truth about Iraq than the press(other than Iraqi)does.
What does this have to do with our soldiers? We’re talking about the Iraqi people, both soldiers and civilians, reading positive things in Iraqi newspapers without realizing that the US is behind the articles.

Posted by: Charles Wager at January 15, 2006 7:32 PM
Comment #113447

I see nothing inconsistent in paying Iraqi Journalists for good press. After all, this Administration has paid American Journalists for good press here at home. They produced fake news segments to run in TV. They even pay Bloggers to hype their crap in political websites. It is simply part of Republican Democracy that the Press should be bought and paid for. The Iraqis are well on their way to Conservative Heaven. They already have religious nuts. All that’s left is to call the Opposition Traitors, UnIraqi and Al Queda Supporters.

Posted by: Aldous at January 15, 2006 7:44 PM
Comment #113448

Bugcrazy,
I couldn’t imagine anyone find a way to justify what was done… I was wrong…

“The U.S. took out what were basically ads in newspapers and ‘the media’ turned the story into what it is now. Considering the soldiers are closest to the story, not sitting in the green zone, I would think they would know more truth about Iraq than the press(other than Iraqi)does.”

You characterize what they printed as ads? Really? They were clearly marked as ads? Can you please send us a link to a .pdf or something so we can see that it was mischaracetized by our press? This would be most helpful to your argument and disproving mine.

Most people can read a paper or a magazine and immediately determine what is new and what is an ad. The news is not paid for directly by the advertiser… the advertiser does not provide the news, the sources and the script.

Please, it really is insulting.

You are aware of the depth of coverage of the Iraqi press corp? That is surprising… could you please provide a link or your experience with what and where the Iraqi press are doing their coverage.

If you note… I did not question the accuracy of the information, nor the need to “get the word out”… what I questioned was the undermining of the integrity and the impartiality of the press.

This administration has done this a couple of times with American commentators… paying them to promote the administrations agenda in their articles. Each time it has been discovered the journalist has been nailed on it… as well as the administration.

“Don’t forget that the media gets ‘paid’ to tell stories. They hype them a good part of the time to sell their product and keep themselves working. Is there no bias in that?”

The media is supposed to get paid by advertisers… not from people they cover. This really is the abolute basics of journalistic ethics. Please. There is supposed to be a wall between the newsroom and the sales department. This does get blurred when stations are owned by big business.

I was hoping for a bit better of a rationalization of the administrations behavior.

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 15, 2006 7:45 PM
Comment #113449

The media in these countries is not free and unbiased. Journalists are being paid off, threatened etc.

It depends on the truth that is in the story, or not. Many journalists have ideological axes to grind and some are in the pay of the enemy. Even good people are threatened by violence.

Read the article about the U.S. paid to get fair treatment in the Iraqi media. The author is better at explaining than I am. I just checked and found the link didn’t work. This one should do and I fixed the original one.

Posted by: Jack at January 15, 2006 8:01 PM
Comment #113450

Jack:

Cute. I did not know you favored the removal of Free Press in the United States of America. You do realize that the justifications you cited can very easily apply here too. Tell me Jack, why do you favor a Police State in America?

Posted by: Aldous at January 15, 2006 8:19 PM
Comment #113454

Aldous

You know that various organizations manipulate the press in the U.S. Think of the breast implant fiasco, or the asbestos scare, the electrical wires cancer debacle etc. These were largely created by the litigation industry in cahoots with NGOs seeking to raise money through fear.

We tolerate these abuses because we value free press. We will continue to do those things in America. The article I mentioned gives good background. I won’t repeat the whole thing, but this part speaks to your concern.

“The ‘pay for placement’ program provides some measure of compensation for those Iraqis brave enough or - yes - greedy enough to assume the risk of running stories that make Americans and our coalition partners look good … Critics may argue that secretly paying an editor in a war zone to run accurate if self-serving stories flies in the face of journalistic ethics. But that view speaks more to American views of journalism than to the realities of counterinsurgency. Holding Iraq’s nascent media to American ethical standards makes little sense. In a counterinsurgency war zone, the locals understandably pay close attention to the risks and rewards of raising one’s media profile. Not all friendships, alliances and sympathies come free.

“Moreover, such principled purity defies the precedents of historical American wartime and occupation experience. After World War II, both Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s occupied Japan and Gen. Lucius Clay’s occupied Germany imposed levels of press oversight and control that make Iraq’s information environment look as unregulated as the blogosphere.”

Posted by: Jack at January 15, 2006 8:39 PM
Comment #113455

Jack,
I am sorry, but I do not see anything in your argument that justifies this behavior. If a newspaper is “brave enough” to print a planted story as news then they should be able to be equally brave enough to do it as an ad… with the added benefit that the people can tell the difference. WoW!

“Holding Iraq’s nascent media to American ethical standards makes little sense. In a counterinsurgency war zone, the locals understandably pay close attention to the risks and rewards of raising one’s media profile. Not all friendships, alliances and sympathies come free.”

We are holding the Americans to ethical standards… not the Iraqi media. Big difference. We, with the more mature appriciation of the media and its need to be percieved as unbiased as possible should be the ones not planting the news.

Agreed, they don’t always come free… but should they be underhanded and cause the Iraqi to doubt even more the truthfulness of their own news agencies?

Seriously… don’t you think passing off “pro-American” stories as news puts them in more danger than publishing them as an ad or a filler?

Yes, we did control the press in Germany and Japan. We also had been in a war with the entire population and beat them in a war, not of our choosing. I do not believe that during that occupation there was any real attempt to disguise the news as being written by Germans or Japanese when in fact it was from an American contractor.

I agree that the press should not be determining scientific evidene in the cases you noted. However, the evidence in those cases was not ready for a court to decide either.

The neat thing? The newspapers and the tv reporters responded to the viewers… that is what determines what is being reported. The viewers… don’t you ever wonder where the important news goes to and all we get is heart-rendering crap about missing students on some island or someone killing his wife?

The press is responding to the marketplace of what the viewers want to watch. That has absolutely nothing to do with ethics or the government intentionally undermining the press in Iraq, which, if anyone, could really use a source of news they can trust.

Their alternative? Al-Jazerra.

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 15, 2006 9:07 PM
Comment #113470

Darren

My point about those stories I mentioned in the U.S. media is that they were planted as an aid to litigation and then took on a life of their own. I don’t know if the lawyers paid for the initial placement. Sometimes they don’t have to. The manipulation line is very thin.

I think it is interesting the faith you have in both the customers of the media and the media’s ability to give them what they want. Why not extend that faith to all other businesses? Clearly, most businesses try to give their customers what they think they want to buy.

The media is a complicated business. Many people are trying to manipulate it. Journalists are often in over their heads and sometimes are not completely honorable. They bring in their own motivations. In the few cases where I have known the “inside story” the news reports have been wrong. I have to assume this is the case with the stories I don’t know.

There is nothing sacred about journalistic judgment or that of their editors, even in the U.S. or Europe. How much less is this true in a place like Iraq?

Returning to the simple point, what “lesson” would you be trying to teach the Iraqis? Do you really believe revelations that some U.S. contractors have paid to get stories, which were evidently factually accurate, in the media is going to change any opinions? Most people probably assumed we were doing it already.

In most of the Middle East the political masters literally pay the bills. There is no free press in the sense we understand it. It is a cartel at best. Add to the problem in Iraq that we can’t safely talk to local journalists and they can’t safely talk to us. Demanding U.S. style methods is silly when you have conditions in no way similar to those of the U.S.

Never in the history of conflict has any country worked so hard to maintain good standards as has the U.S. in this war. Placing factual articles in newspapers is just part of a good strategy.

Posted by: Jack at January 15, 2006 11:27 PM
Comment #113473

Jack:

It’s interesting to note that the policy of paying to get the truth out is not a new one. “As recently as 1999, during NATO operations in Kosovo — an environment far less hostile than occupied Iraq — American military operatives secretly paid for planted stories in Serbian media outlets. The stories, which military officials insist were accurate, were intended to counter Milosevic’s anti-NATO media campaign.” Washington Post

Some want to credit—or discredit—Bush at every turn, by saying policies are his and his alone. The policy of pre-emptive military attack was used in 1998 with Operation Desert Fox, and the policy of planting stories occurred in 1999, and well before then too.

The real key is the accuracy and truth of the stories. If they are true, then it isn’t propaganda. They are only propaganda if they are untrue.

It’s important to not take a knee jerk reaction to this. The article you provided in the link does a nice job of explaining the WHY, as opposed to simply saying what has happened. It gives a good rationale for the policy.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at January 15, 2006 11:41 PM
Comment #113482

The why’s and the how’s are irrelevant. The question is the end result of this affair. Now the average Iraqi will assume that ALL the good news in the papers are worthless American Propaganda.

Nice Job.

Posted by: Aldous at January 16, 2006 12:37 AM
Comment #113483

Aldous

Presumably they will test what they read against their own experience.

Since the bad guys are already manipulating the media, even going to more extreme lengths of murdering and beheading, I don’t think anyone will be much surprised by us placing truthful stories.

You know that if people behaved as rationally and honorably as you assume, we wouldn’t have any troubles at all.

Also consider advertising when we know it is biased. It still sells products even to those who claim to be too sophisticated to be taken in.

Posted by: Jack at January 16, 2006 12:43 AM
Comment #113517

Why is the MSM all negative always on news they dont like/fit their agenda. If there are 10 stories 9 of which are good and one is bad,the MSM will repeat the one bad news story over and over and over-just like brain washing. It is done on purpose- modern MSM goal is to reach the most people and change them,by changing what they believe is to be true. If you say something often enough no matter how un-true people will believe it, and you will believe your own lies as well. Why is it that an overwhelming percentage of people who go into Journalism-“to change the world” instead of simply reporting the 5 W’s without any personal opinion comment or a disapproving smirk …and letting the populace decide for themselves. Why not pay for positive true storys to be run that otherwise would never see the light of day. At least a positive story does see the light of day over in Iraq even if it has to be paid for. The sad thing is the MSM in our country will not report the 9 out of 10 positive true things that occur in Iraq and our country as well every day along with the one bad news story. Repeating the bad news 10x more than what is needed has the affect of making things 10x worse than it truly is, but after all that is the MSM’s goal if it is Iraq,Bush,Republicans…
What the MSM should be doing is”Reporting” the 5 W’s to give a more realistic view of what is occuring . They might actually be viewed slighty more positive and believable than they are now. It is certainly more believable than 100% bad news 100% of the time. Even the people they are trying to brainwash (the other 99.99% of the population which the journalist’s think are too stupid to think for themselves)can see through that lie.

Posted by: Jim at January 16, 2006 4:22 AM
Comment #113535
The only outrage is that we have to pay to get a fair hearing.

I have to agree with Woody. Nobody believes paid advertising. Really Jack, the only way your argument makes sense is if you believe that the entire Iraqi free press is part of the insurgency…

Since the bad guys are already manipulating the media

Oh. I guess you do believe that. If that’s true — and President Bush swears it’s not — then we’re in worse shape than I thought. The battle for hearts and minds has been won. We should immediately institute a bloody purge of all Iraqi journalists who focus on the occupation’s failure to provide electricity, clean water, gasoline, heating oil, and basic security and law and order. They’re obviously part of the insurgency. :/

The real key is the accuracy and truth of the stories.

JBOD, the key is whether anyone believes the truth in the stories. If they don’t — and nobody believes paid advertising — then it’s a waste, and therefore a bad idea. Perception is everything.

It is done on purpose- modern MSM goal is to reach the most people and change them

Jim, unless by “change them” you mean to give us a quarter back from the dollar we spend on the paper, then you’re just wrong. The mainstream media are run as businesses by boards of directors and shareholders who expect to see a profit. Bad news sells. It always has.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 16, 2006 7:02 AM
Comment #113546

AP:

You claim that “nobody believes paid advertising”—not sure where you are going with that. Tell that to Madison Avenue—I think they are all doing just dandy. Tell that to the public relations firms, who get paid to tell their client’s side of the story.

I’m okay with what Charles Wager says, in that we should have indicated that it was paid for information. I don’t particularly think doing so was as necessary as he thinks it, but at least he’s on the right page.

But to say that paid advertising doesn’t work is just plain wrong. It works all over the world.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at January 16, 2006 8:08 AM
Comment #113551

All the people who work at a newspaper in America are paid by the owner and he controls what is printed in it through an editor who enforces the policies of the owner.If the policies of the owner insist on accuracy in each story or a correction or an apology is issued when it isn’t,then we have news reporting,but,if the owner has other motives,we have only the side of the story he wants us to have.You can see which is which just by reading.The politics of the owner will be reflected in the articles printed,they will slant in one way or the other .If you can not tell what his politics are,then he is reporting.For example,printing a speech by President Clinton revealing the knowledge Saddam has WMD from Inteligence from people Clinton installed to gather inteligence and praising him and his people,then years later when that same info is used by President Bush to go in and stop him and ‘some’ info turns out to be not accurate,even though the info came from the same source as Clinton’s,President Bush somehow manipulated Congress to go to war his own personal reasons,instead of realizing and reporting our intelligence gathering methods are lacking and encourage Congress to work together to fix it.

Posted by: RDAVIDC at January 16, 2006 8:57 AM
Comment #113558

Jack, I too think it’s not such a bad idea to get our stories out, but I think it should be more through gentleman’s agreement rather than what could essentially be called bribery. Also, they should verifiably true, so that even if people discover the source, they can be lead to recognize that we weren’t lying to them.

Even then, though, it’s an uphill battle. Fighting a reality people personally know with propaganda is not getting yourself into a fair fight, because then you must explain your point in more detail, detail a person can rebut from experience.

The Tragedy of the Right in this country is that it has long tried to fight realities with words and images. Even when it succeeds, it sets itself up for failure.

RDAVIDC-
Most Newspapers are owned by big conglomerates now. Regardless, they have certain obligations, and can be held liable when they don’t come through. Additionally, a paper’s credibility can be damaged if it seems like they are batting more for one team or another in its standard news.

Frankly, though, gauging the reliability of material from apparent slant is a recipe for sealing yourself in a bubble. When you see a political purpose behind every story, you start to care more about the slant than you do the facts. Then you’re screwed, because you can’t hold your leaders accountable. They’ll just play on your prejudice to distract you.

Truth be told, Clinton believed Saddam had WMDs. Many of us did. But he didn’t believe they were the power behind al-Qaeda, that Saddam would give WMDs to terrorists, that Saddam had drones that could reach the US, that Saddam’s nuclear program was really up and running, or that the next smoking gun from Iraq might be a Mushroom Cloud. There is plenty of new information that the Bush administration added, information whose flaws, qualifications, and even outright falseness was hidden from those who hadn’t the security clearance to keep them from telling it to the rest of us.

Our intelligence methods were lacking in terms of our human sourcing on the ground. We didn’t have people who could report back to us on where the WMDs were, whether they still existed or not.

As Colin Powell once put it, you can’t interrogate a pixel. Looking at satellite imagery is educated guesswork, and the difference between a tank of VX and a tank of pesticide isn’t that visible from miles up. We should have known better, before we invested ourselves in this war on Homeland Security grounds. George Tenet was not about to tell the president and his staff they were wrong, though, and that was the problem.

Answer this question, then: Why did we start from the assumption, then move to building the case for that assumption? Shouldn’t it work the other way? Shouldn’t we look at the information around us to discern the patterns, rather than decide what the pattern is, then try to fit the evidence to that?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 16, 2006 10:00 AM
Comment #113567
Our intelligence methods were lacking in terms of our human sourcing on the ground.

With all due respect, Stephen. UN inspectors had been on the ground for months before President Bush invaded. By March 2003, nobody who was paying attention believed Iraq still had WMD.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 16, 2006 10:56 AM
Comment #113568
But to say that paid advertising doesn’t work is just plain wrong.

JBOD, thanks for picking a sentence out of context and ignoring the thrust of my post. Next time, I’ll just quote Woody directly: “How would you feel if you read a car or restaurant review and found out the writer was bought off? Would you believe a word in it?”

Posted by: American Pundit at January 16, 2006 10:59 AM
Comment #113570

AP

Advertising works. People claim not to be influenced by it, but they buy the products.

I didn’t say the insurgency controls the media in Iraq, but they do influence it. The threat of getting your head chopped off by the terrorists is pretty big motivation not to write pro-American stories.

Stephen

The press is not an independent entity whose motives are always pure. I regret that we can’t get journalists to print accurate information without some incentive.

I know this is a tangent, but I have long thought about why we think artist, journalists and authors somehow have a superior call on our indulgence or a more direct line to truth.

I have personal experience with artists who I wanted to do something to particular specifications. When they didn’t cooperate and I rejected their proposals, they became indigent and told me that they had a right to their art. I respect that, but I have a right to my money. Why should we defer to the taste of the artist? It is a negotiation process.

Journalism ethics require that they seek the truth, or at least accuracy. But the meta decision is what to investigate. Why should we leave that to the journalists? Are they really the most qualified? I know lots of journalists. Most are fine people who I respect and like. But I have not noticed that they are more intelligent, ethical, moral or honest than professionals in other fields.

Think of the architecture of the 1930s -1970s. If you go to any big city and look at those horrible buildings you think they just didn’t think about what they were doing. But they did. We had a big “emperor’s new clothes” situation, where nobody would stand up to the experts. Go down to Brasilia and consider that they did that on purpose.

Posted by: Jack at January 16, 2006 11:03 AM
Comment #113573

Jack, and you would foster the kind of propagandist enslaved media in a country that still does not understand what the cornerstones of working democracy are, of which free press is one.

This double standard is ludicrous. We believe in a free press, but not for export to other nations, is that it? Too inconvenient to our foreign policy and agendas, eh? American foreign policy lacks credibility for just these kinds of reasons. We say one thing, but, do another.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 16, 2006 11:08 AM
Comment #113574

JBOD, you are right with the following qualification. Paid Advertising works as long as the consumers have no negative perception of the sponsor of the ad. Paid advertising does not work if the sponsor is denigrated in the public eye.

Abramoff could run ads for his character, but, it would be wasted money today.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 16, 2006 11:12 AM
Comment #113575

David

I was a Cold Warrior and I remember the trouble we had countering lies, sometimes things that just made no sense. The communists were horrible and horrible failures at most things but they managed to get decent press. They did it through manipulation, disinformation and sometimes murder. Unfortunately those methods sometimes work. I don’t say that we should do it, but the idea that somehow deviating from the standards we can apply in the most developed media markets is going to ruin our reputation is disingenuous.

Our commitment should be to truth and accuracy. I regret that in order to get accurate information in some media we have to sometimes provide incentives. But that says more about the situation we face than it does about us.

Posted by: Jack at January 16, 2006 11:23 AM
Comment #113582

It sad when people actually try to argue the point of paying for good news. There’s good news and bad news that’s happening in the world (especially in Iraq) and only the bad is being reported. The libs have “slanted” the press so bad that they will actually argue that paying for good news is a “bad” thing. Ridiculous!


The “positive” stories weren’t “false” stories; they were true, they just paid to have them reported (FOR A CHANGE!!!!). Wake up libs, and figure out what side you’re on!

Posted by: rahdigly at January 16, 2006 11:38 AM
Comment #113592

AP:

The real key is the accuracy and truth of the stories.

JBOD, the key is whether anyone believes the truth in the stories. If they don’t — and nobody believes paid advertising — then it’s a waste, and therefore a bad idea. Perception is everything.

This was the entire text of the section of your post addressed to me. The rest of your post was addressed to others. When I commented on it back to you, you stated, “JBOD, thanks for picking a sentence out of context and ignoring the thrust of my post.”

Toooo funny.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at January 16, 2006 12:17 PM
Comment #113593

Jack:

When they didn’t cooperate and I rejected their proposals, they became indigent and told me that they had a right to their art.

I’m guessing they become indignant, though that might have led them to become indigent eventually, since you were funding the work. There’s a reason they have ‘starving artist’ sales, yknow. :)

David:

I think paid advertising very often works even in the most dire situations. Take the tobacco companies, who now routinely are vilified but run ads talking about smoking prevention. Hmmm, now why would a company try to lower the number of customers, yet the tobacco companies come out looking better. Look at political campaigns where candidates who have done bad things (Marian Berry in DC is a prime example) end up looking better as a result of PR and ad campaigns.

It shouldnt work, but it does.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at January 16, 2006 12:24 PM
Comment #113595

Joe

That is funny. I guess they became both indignant and indigent. If I would have thought of that double meaning, I would have paired it on purpose.

You find artists all over the place. Those that call themselves artists and get paid for it are often the least artistic.

Posted by: Jack at January 16, 2006 12:31 PM
Comment #113596

Jack,

“My point about those stories I mentioned in the U.S. media is that they were planted as an aid to litigation and then took on a life of their own.”

Calling a news conference to get the word out? Are you aware that this happens in politics all the time? Staff call the press to say there will be an announcement so it can be covered?

Mulltmillion dollar law suits are not newsworthy? What about Phen-Phen, and some of the other drugs that had devestating effects. I think that you really need to understand litigation… you cannot have a “one-law” fits all limitation on preemtively disaollowing lawsuits. Come on.

“I think it is interesting the faith you have in both the customers of the media and the media’s ability to give them what they want. Why not extend that faith to all other businesses? Clearly, most businesses try to give their customers what they think they want to buy.”

How in the world did you come to the conclusion that I didn’t believe that business should give the customers what they want?

Sir… if you are interested, please look through other posts… you will see when it comes to capitalism I have mentioned over and over that the customer is supposed to be the driving force through the marketplace where they reward the companies that meet their needs and price.

If you are not sure what drives the media, then possibly a bit of research on your part versus denying my statement. Media people know exactly what the consumer wants and gives it to them.

Yes… I do have faith in journalism. I remember what news was before it all got bought up by a few companies.

Companies sir. Their interest? Profit! How do they make a profit? By reporting news that people want (wow, they use research to figure that out) and then provide it. This increases viewship and thus revenue they can charge the advertisers.

I cannot believe I am having to go to this extreme of the basics just to discuss whether or not planting stories as “news” in the Iraqu press is right or not.

“The media is a complicated business. Many people are trying to manipulate it. Journalists are often in over their heads and sometimes are not completely honorable. They bring in their own motivations. In the few cases where I have known the “inside story” the news reports have been wrong. I have to assume this is the case with the stories I don’t know.”

Way too cool. Wrong huh? There wasn’t competition to come up with the “right” story and earn points by any other news agency?

I see that you choose to spit the tiniest hairs and take things to their most basic… are you sure they were factual errors that substantially misled the public? Or, were there minor errors?

I cannot comment to alleged errors known to you that everyone else missed.

As far as being complicated. You betcha! Journalists went to school for journalism. Not economics, chemistry, physics… they are trained to interview, research and to report what they find.

“There is nothing sacred about journalistic judgment or that of their editors, even in the U.S. or Europe. How much less is this true in a place like Iraq?”

You claim that there is noting sacred. I am not sure how you came to that conclusion? What is our 1st Amendment? Wonder why it is the first?

I want to hold the journalists up to the highest standard that I can…. there has been a lot of publicity lately about “lazy” or “manipulated” news by journalists… the neat thing??? It was found and reported by reporters and the very agencies the bad ones worked for. No excuses… no pointing fingers.

“Returning to the simple point, what “lesson” would you be trying to teach the Iraqis?”

Wow… you really are asking? Okay…
1) The press should be independant.
2) Jouranlists should not accept money for stories.
3) Editoral content belongs in a clearly seperate section.
4) Any conflict between the journalist and the story should be noted in the article.
5) If an article is used from a secondary source it should be attributed to that source… such as UPI, Rueters, CNN, Washington Post, US Military Occupation, Al-Jazeerah, etc.


“Do you really believe revelations that some U.S. contractors have paid to get stories, which were evidently factually accurate, in the media is going to change any opinions?”

Again, I am not arguing the accuracy of the articles. Please. I am arguing the way it is presented.

Have you ever heard that there are lies of comission and ommision?

Comission is lying about the accuracy of the article.

Ommission is lying about the source of the article when you know that this information can have an impact on the perception of the people reading it.

This wasn’t an American contractor that is repairing the powerlines and wanting a bit of good press. This was an American company specifically contracted to deal with propaganda.

Don’t like the characterization of the “news” as proaganda?

This was obviously what they did… because they intentionally tried to hide where the source of the news came from.

“In most of the Middle East the political masters literally pay the bills. There is no free press in the sense we understand it. It is a cartel at best. Add to the problem in Iraq that we can’t safely talk to local journalists and they can’t safely talk to us. Demanding U.S. style methods is silly when you have conditions in no way similar to those of the U.S.”

Do you really believe that trying to introduce a democratic form of government can be done without an independant press?

What you describe it what we have to minimize if we want to introduce democracy.

“Never in the history of conflict has any country worked so hard to maintain good standards as has the U.S. in this war. Placing factual articles in newspapers is just part of a good strategy.”

Look, we broke it and we now have to fix it. Don’t like that? Tell the President. We should be working hard to maintain good standards… in this case I believe they fell short.

Again… it is not about the accuracy!!!!!!

I loved the examples before… would you trust a reviewer taking money from a studio? A critic taking money from the resturant being reviewed? A political reporter being paid by a political party? A person reporting from the White House that was on the government’s payroll?

Instead of even considering that the integrity of the press should remain as pure as possible… you are trying to find any example or extreme in news reporting (that you don’t believe is worthy of news such as ________).

If that doesn’t work, you want to try to presume that I am what? Anti-business? Socialist? Communist? Marxist? Geeeeez.

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 16, 2006 1:00 PM
Comment #113597

And you believe the press in Iraq is currently living up to the standards you mention? Any of them? If you can level that playing field, I think we can play on it by American standards.

I do not believe the media always maximizes profits or gives the people what they want and I am not sure it should be a completely commercial enterprise. Would you tolerate, BTW, a rich person buying a whole media outlet to get his point of view across?

I believe the test of information is its accuracy and its usefulness, not its source or the source of financing. If an environmental organization sponsors a study that finds pollution has increased, do you say that it cant be true because of the financing?

Think of how you judge people right here at this blog. You know nothing certain about any of the authors. You judge each writer by the reasonableness and accuracy of postings. That’s it.

Since you asked, let me tell you the most interesting time when I saw the major media get something wrong. It was during the Russian coup attempt when the communist tried to retake authority. Tanks had surrounded the Russian parliament. CNN watching from a couple of miles away reported movement at the barricades. They announced smoke rising from the barricades. The pictures were ominous. What had happened was the soldiers were mixing with the defending and sharing vodka (hence the movement). Some people had made fires and were cooking sausages (hence the dark smoke). The coup was over. CNN had reported what they had seen, but without the proper context. For months after, they ran the pictures of the barricades with the voice over – when there was trouble in Moscow, CNN was there. They were not lying, but they really got it wrong. CNN did a similar thing in 1998 when the ruble collapsed. They kept on showing the same pictures of trouble at a currency exchange. I happened to have been in Moscow at that time. My wife called worried after watching the news in the U.S. I told her that there was nothing going on except it was now a lot cheaper to eat at nice restaurants.

I have seen dozens of occassions where somebody gives a speech and hands out a written text. He then gives a very different speech, yet most journalists write their stories based on the press releases. Some who were not even there write. Only occassionally, if the event is unexpectedly cancelled and they still write a report, do we see what has happened.

I don’t want to bore everyone with stories. Suffice to say journalists don’t always pursue the truth with as much energy and enthusiasm as they would like us to believe.

Posted by: Jack at January 16, 2006 1:33 PM
Comment #113603

Jack,
You are right… I do not know the motivation of the people here… but if I were to find that anyone was under the direction and pay of a government agency… don’t you think that it should be disclosed?

If you want to find out who owns what here is a good link:
http://www.publicintegrity.org/telecom/
Fox: Rupert Murdoch
CBS: Viacom
NBC: General Electric
ABC: Walth Disney
USA Today and lots of local papers: Gannett

So, in the heat of the moment they got it wrong… throw ‘em all out. Cannot be trusted!

We will now rely on all our news from the Press Secretary from the White House.

Conservative Columnist Armstrong Williams , was paid $240,000 of our money to promote NCLB without disclosing it.

Michael McManus, conservative author of syndicated column “Ethics and Religion” (of all columns to be accepting money to write!) got $10,000 to promote marriage initiative. (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2005/01/27/mcmanus/index_np.html)

Maggie Gallagher, $21,500 writing columns… her defense:
“Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it?” Gallagher said yesterday. “I don’t know. You tell me.” She said she would have “been happy to tell anyone who called me” about the contract but that “frankly, it never occurred to me” to disclose it.”

Now… who would have thought to ASK a columnist if they were getting money to write a coulumn from the government?

(http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36545-2005Jan25.html)

The message might be truthful… might be honorable… might be benefical… but the manner it was done was decietful!

Like I said… it appears as if this administration is incapable of doing anything the honest way if they can do it the underhanded way.

This can be for lawyers, doctors, journalists, CPA’s, nurses? Just about any profession has a set of standards and codes of ethics.

How about Society of Professional Journalists?
http://www.spj.org/ethics_code.asp

You mentioned the differences between American and European ethics of journalism.

Would you care to see a site that lists all the major countries of Europe and see the differneces?
http://www.uta.fi/ethicnet/

Now… when it comes to ethics… journalist’s ethics… are we going to use those of the involved professionals or those of a political party or partisan?

How anyone can argue that minimizing the independance of the media is beyond me. It really is.

I had thought I had seen the extreme in partisan support here, but this argument is really heads above them all.

COME ON GUYS!!!! The Republican Party bills themselves as the party of Integrity! Honesty! Morality!

Either act like it or shut up about how honorable and crap you guys say you are!!!!

I am sorry, but I am so tired of people telling me that what I see isn’t really real! It is crazy making, it insults everyone’s intelligence and really makes it difficult to not get upset.

Maybe, since my perception of Integrity, Hoesnty and Morality is so different from that of the Republicans… maybe one of you guys can tell me what your definitions actually means?

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 16, 2006 2:45 PM
Comment #113608

We should label these articles as ads in the Iraqi media? Soon as we see DNC disclaimers on what runs on CNN and most of the other MSM outlets. Our press is full of partisan drivel under the guise of ‘news’ every single day.

Posted by: pige at January 16, 2006 3:23 PM
Comment #113618

Jack-
The trick of this is that public opinion in Iraq is very sensitive to our manipulations. I don’t expect the press to be perfect, to be 100% objective, and to investigate without following something of their personal bias. What I expect is that journalists do their best, whatever direction they choose, to investigate the truth, not merely as they believe it, but as the facts indicate it to be.

Let people investigate as they will, but demand accuracy in anything they report. If they are accurate with the facts, you at least have the chance to form your opinion on substance, and not merely the image one’s leaders want distributed to the masses.

In the end, fact-based reporting trumps advocacy-based reporting. You build on substance. The example being your two anecdotes. It’s easy to get the wrong idea when you’re looking for political vindication, or in CNN’s case, drama, rather than inquiring about what’s going on. What’s more, there are stories there that can be compelling.

The problem with outlets like Fox News is that they are so busy being an ideological outlet and a political counterweight that they end up with little priority on digging up the scoops of what’s really going on. They differentiate things by interpretation, rather than going in and making their mark by competing in true information gathering.

It’s more important to compete with the reliability of information gathered, rather than attempt to push an image on a public who may not buy it, if you blow it on the facts enough.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 16, 2006 4:26 PM
Comment #113647

Stephen

If I wanted to manipulate the media I would not start with facts or ideology. I would just try to get control of the agenda and the templates. Consider the case in Iraq. You could look at destruction or rebuilding. If I get journalists to study destruction, even if there is not very much going on, they will produce negative stories. If I can get them to study rebuilding, the stories will be good even if there is not much going on.

Journalists travel in packs. They tend to follow similar story lines and use similar templates. Good stories can be a kind of pump priming.

And let me repeat, there are no accusation that the stories were factually inaccurate. People were paying to get truthful stories in to counter the false ones.

Re Fox and CNN - Fox leans about as far to the right as CNN leans left. The reporting on both networks sucks. On the other hand Fox News Sunday is a better program than CNN’s Late Edition. I think if you watch Fox News Sunday, This Week and Meet the Press, you are all right. I don’t think you can miss any of those three, since they are the agenda setters. Late Edition and Face the Nation are the B-team.

The best television news program is the NewsHour on PBS, but most viewers don’t have a long enough attention span to watch it.

Posted by: Jack at January 16, 2006 5:50 PM
Comment #113655

Hiding the authorship of news is a lie. A lie is a lie. And lies get exposed. And when they are exposed, the truthful content is also deemed to be lies. It backfires, it returns the exact opposite result that was intended. It is stupid, it is childish, as every parent knows. Lies beget more lies, until the liars are no longer believed regardless of what truths they utter.

This crap in Iraq seeks short term goals while doing long term damage to US credibility. This is stupid, and this is childish, and I would hope that Americans would expect something far more mature and sophisticated from their President and the Defense Dep’t.s of our nation than this 7 year old ploy of lying to get what one wants.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 16, 2006 6:06 PM
Comment #113660

David

When you talk about the 7 year old ploy, do ou mean to include Clinton in 1999? You may disagree with the strategy, but it didn’t begin with George Bush. Read the Washington Post article I referenced. This is a policy long employed. It is also very likely that the articles we inspired are the most accuate in the Middle East media and problably the least manipulated.

The articles are evidently factual. They may be the only factual articles in some of the media.

Posted by: Jack at January 16, 2006 6:16 PM
Comment #113670

Or… you can just decide to “monitor postings” until verified for conformance and then “loose” it?

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 16, 2006 6:28 PM
Comment #113681

“The mainstream media are run as businesses by boards of directors and shareholders who expect to see a profit. Bad news sells. It always has”.
That may be true but what would be more believable and sell better is a 50/50 mix of good news and bad news,even 70% bad news mixed with 30% good news would be a huge improvement.

Posted by: Jim at January 16, 2006 6:51 PM
Comment #113688

Attempts to mislead the American public.

NOTE: I am not questioning the accuracy of what these people wrote… I am questioning their not disclosing the money they are recieving for writing what they did.

Continually repeating that the stories were accurate detracts from the argument of whether it was moral or ethical.

A lie is a lie is a lie! Whether it is of comission where the person tells an obvious lie… or omission where the person witholds information (such as being paid to print a news article) that they know is relevant and should be disclosed.

To compare… it isn’t about the sex, it is about the lie. It isn’t about the accuracy, it is about the not disclosing fact that they were paying money to have the articles printed.

1) Doug Bandow, acknowledged to executives at CATO that he had taken money from Mr. Abramoff after he was confronted about the payments by a reporter from BusinessWeek Online.

He acknowledges he made a lapse in judgment,” said Jamie Dettmer, director of communications at Cato. “There’s a lot of sadness here.”

2) The latest big name is that of marriage advocate and columnist Michael McManus, who was found to be taking money as a subcontractor for the Department of Health and Human Services. McManus was supposed to help the department develop a pro-marriage initiative. McManus’ column, called Ethics and Religion, appears in at least 50 newspapers. (Ethics and Religion, ironic isn’t it?)

3) Armstrong Williams, a conservative black commentator, who was paid $240,000 for NCLB.

4) Pundit Maggie Gallagher, $21,000 to write brochures and brief government employees on Bush’s pro-marriage policies have also been revealed. Gallagher has defended taking the cash, saying her only mistake was not to have told her readers.
((http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1401980,00.html))

5) We were then treated to the discovery that a partisan-sounding, pro-G.O.P. questioner at a series of White House news conferences had been granted an official White House press pass two years ago under the fake name of “Jeff Gannon” of Talon News.

He turned out to be one James Guckert, not a creditable journalist but a propagandist fronting for a Texas Republican website, GOPUSA.com. His White House press pass was belatedly canceled.
(http://www.washingtonspectator.com/articles/20050301fyi.cfm)

Professions set their ethics…

American ethics outlined by the Society of Professional Journalists
(http://www.spj.org/ethics.asp)

Included is the European ethics for the argument that they are much more different than ours. For the different ethics of the European journalists:
(http://www.uta.fi/ethicnet/)

One last copy and paste… sorry:
Alex Jones, director of Harvard’s Shorenstein media center, said he is “disgusted” by what he called “the worst kind of fakery and flackery” on Williams’s part. “It’s propaganda masquerading as news, paid by government, truly a recipe from hell,” he said. “It would make any thinking person hearing any pundit speak want to say, ‘Okay, how much did they pay you to say that?’ ” Jones said the contract also shows that “the Bush administration neither understands nor respects the idea of an independent media.
”>http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56330-2005Jan7_2.html

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 16, 2006 7:07 PM
Comment #113690

I’m outta this topic. “Someone” twice has held up my comments. I guess I need to move over to the “other” columns.

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 16, 2006 7:09 PM
Comment #113725

Darren

I hope I have not done that. In the post on blogging, somebody keeps on trying to post adverts for viagra etc. I have been trying to keep them off. I have not intentially cut anything of yours off.

Posted by: Jack at January 16, 2006 7:50 PM
Comment #113779

Darren-
Don’t worry, it does it to me too. There’s a comment spam blocker on this thing, and its looking for patterns of behavior (like buttloads of links, for example) that signified that sort of stuff.

Jack-
It’s useless to manipulate the media, if the target audience isn’t buying it. As for the successes, its useful to define your success with facts and further implications. Templates and agendas only interest those who want power over the system. What people need is to know where they stand.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 16, 2006 11:21 PM
Comment #113943

Stephen,
I also believe we should have people on the ground verifying intelligence and I remember George Tenet ( Clinton appointee) was so sure about his info he used the term ‘slam dunk’.
I remember an effort was made to verify if there were WMD’s are not by the UN inspectors but Saddam would not allow it.The majority of the surrounding countries beleived he had them and he bragged about it,arrogantly,and satelite survelience showed him moving something from the area to Syria while he was blocking efforts to confirm if he did or not.
I believe a government or a newspaper or anyone should gather facts and act on or print the facts.
I believe the media has for a large part has less than helpful reasons for what they do,because,when what they reported is proven to be false,they do not retract or make amends in any way.They do not use facts from reliable sources and as been evident,make up stories and present it as news.
I don’t believe the President made anything up so he could go to war,but I do believe we need better intelligence gathering,but to protect ‘us’which is our governments first duty he will eventually have to go with what he has.

Posted by: RDAVIDC at January 17, 2006 8:10 AM
Comment #114019

Jack:

There are those who clamor for a free press, and assume that the press in other countries operates just as it does in the United States. This of course isn’t the case. In Iraq, reporters often did not report the truth out of fear of retaliation. Heed the words of CNN’s Eason Jordan: The secret police terrorized Iraqis working for international press services who were courageous enough to try to provide accurate reporting. Some vanished, never to be heard from again. Others disappeared and then surfaced later with whispered tales of being hauled off and tortured in unimaginable ways.”

Jordan discussed how he had to “lobby the government to keep CNN’s Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard — awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.”

It is one thing to desire freedom of the press; it is entirely another thing to actually have it. Even an organization with as much presence as CNN could not publish the unvarnished truth in Iraq. When dealing with such situations, one must make accommodations with the ideal circumstances, as CNN did. It simply is impossible to do otherwise.

Do we want news sources tainted by paying for stories? No more than we want them tainted by fear of reprisal, lack of access, or murder. What we want is accuracy, and I’ve not seen claims that the paid-for stories in Iraq were anything but accurate. Within the context of the situation, paying for access to the media or “lobbying the government” for access would seem to be quite similar.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/890515/posts

Posted by: joebagodonuts at January 17, 2006 11:38 AM
Comment #114039
Conditions in the Iraqi media are not as fair and balanced as we might find in Fox News. Posted by Jack at January 15, 2006 05:30 PM
(1) I vote this quote as “Best joke of the year” for several levels. To start with the premise that Fox News is fair and balanced is absurd. But, I guess if you look at Iraqi media as really really seriously screwed up then FOx isn’t so bad ???

(2) I believe it is illegal for the US government to pay for “propoganda”. But we all know how much Bushie likes to play with the law (and the ‘truth’), so what’s the surprise?

Posted by: Dave at January 17, 2006 12:53 PM
Comment #114053

Dave:

Sorry to be speaking for Jack, but I just can’t resist commenting on how badly you misstated what Jack said. When he said “Conditions in the Iraqi media are not as fair and balanced as we might find in Fox News.”, that is not an endorsement of Fox. Its simply a statement of how unfair and unbalanced the Iraqi media is.

In fact, if you had just read some of Jack’s other posts, you’d have come to that conclusion yourself. Check out what he said later: “Re Fox and CNN - Fox leans about as far to the right as CNN leans left. The reporting on both networks sucks.” Posted by: Jack at January 16, 2006 05:50 PM

Some have expressed the thought that paying for stories is wrong, but I don’t see where you come up with your claim that it is illegal. You may have missed that the same policy has been used by previous Presidents as well, so its not even a Bush policy, as you suggest.

Lastly, as has already been discussed, the stories that were paid for were true. The issue most people are having is the question of accuracy. Do you have any examples of a false story that the US paid for? I’ve seen none yet.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at January 17, 2006 1:57 PM
Comment #114073

RDAVIDC-
Bush should have been willing to tell George: Go and find out what’s really going on. Instead he enlisted Stephen Hadley (then Assistant National Security Advisor), and current indictee Scooter Libby to give it the Trial Lawyers treatment- to make it scarier.

Intelligence can be scary and wrong, and when Bush decided that accuracy was a lower priority than emotional effect, that’s when he started making problems for himself.

It’s important to point out that weapons inspector Charles Duelfer, having sifted through all the evidence, found absolutely no evidence that Chemical Weapons were moved to Syria. I’m sure he might have moved somethings, but as Colin Powell would put it, you can’t interrogate a pixel- interpretation of satellite imagery is an inexact science. Saddam did push his luck with his lack of cooperation with U.N. Weapons Inspectors, but that shouldn’t excuse the mistakes we made

As for your views on the news, the question is how much you base that view on solid facts yourself. You should look into the supposed discrepencies from both sides. Often enough, right-wing sources have the bad habit of taking a bit of information out of context, when it stands to vindicate their cause. Check documents and original quotations where you can, you’ll see what I mean.

Joe-
The issue is more than accuracy. The issue is whether paying for the stories defeats the purpose of the stories in the first place. Propaganda that changes few minds is a waste of money and breath.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 17, 2006 3:00 PM
Comment #114076

Stephen:

I understand your point. The point that many seem to be missing, though, is that the media in Iraq was not neutral. It was severely partisan against the United States. The media was actually taking “payoffs” from the bad guys, with the “payoff” being that a journalist could stay alive depending on the story he submitted.

In that kind of scenario, one can take the moral high ground, hold to the ‘freedom of the press’ principles, vow to never waver from the ideal…..and never get their side of the story published.

Too many people are acting as if the playing field was level. It was anything but level. It was slanted so far against the US that the US had two choices: force the playing field even, or fall off the edge.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at January 17, 2006 3:08 PM
Comment #114109

jbod,

(a) Please explain how “Conditions in the Iraqi media are not as fair and balanced as we might find in Fox News” does not, in common vernacular English, mean “Fox is fair and balanced”.

(b) I never said the paid for articles were inaccurate. I don’t speak Arabic so how would you (do you speak arabic?) or I know? My post was: “it is illegal for the US government to pay for “propoganda”.” The truth element at the end was not specific to the propoganda; just replace “truth” with “independent media” instead. Maybe then you can understand some of the concept.

Posted by: Dave at January 17, 2006 5:08 PM
Comment #114118

Dave:

Its really simple, and I already explained it (sigh), but I’ll review it for you once more. Its a comparison between the Iraqi media and Fox. Taken in context, especially with Jack’s later comment, it means that neither one is fair and balanced, but that comparing the two, Fox is MORE fair and balanced.

For example, on a scale of 1-100, Fox might rate a 20 while the Iraqi media might rate a 3. Thus, neither would be fair and balanced, but Fox would be more fair and balanced.

As I said, Jack’s later post, which I copied for you, clarified that point completely.

Additionally, I asked you on what basis the paid for news articles are illegal. I can see people thinking they are wrong, or that they are acceptable, but I don’t see any basis for them being illegal. What provision of the law are you referring to? Or are you using the term ‘illegal’ as a substitute for immoral? If the former, then please let me know what statutes are being broken—I don’t think any are, but you seem to, so the burden of proof lies in your hands.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at January 17, 2006 5:37 PM
Comment #114159

“Re Fox and CNN - Fox leans about as far to the right as CNN leans left. ” Oh yeah, CNN is really “left”, but I’ll take it as a retraction.

I investigated the propoganda legality a bit more. It appears it’s only illegal when it’s against Americans. So the Gannon and NCLB episodes, etc… were illegal, the Iraqi news episodes, just stupid.

Posted by: Dave at January 17, 2006 9:24 PM
Comment #114167

Dave:

I’m glad I was finally able to make it clear for you. Thanks for reading.

Thanks also for clarifying your point on the illegality, or rather legality, of the paying for media access. I was pretty sure I was right that it wasn’t illegal—thanks for checking into it.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at January 17, 2006 9:39 PM
Comment #114173

jbod,

I’m curious if you understand my point? Jack’s original quote is clearly interpretable as I stated before. His latter comment is more a retraction than a clarification.

Posted by: Dave at January 17, 2006 9:59 PM
Comment #114184

Dave let me clarify

Dave

I was exaggerating about Fox. It was a joke. I don’t think any media is really fair and balanced. As I mentioned, the best program in my opinion is the News Hour on PBS.

Fox leans to the right as far as CNN leans left. It depends on what part of Fox you are watching. Special Report with Brit Hume and Fox News Sunday are very good programs. I would certainly stand them up against similar programs on other networks. Something like the O’Reilly Factor is a provocation. People don’t watch it for the news value. But something like NOW is just as bad, although more subtle. The worst offense during the 2004 election was not Fox, but Dan Rather.

BTW - I saw Anderson Cooper on Jeopardy and now can’t stand to watch him pretend to be smart.

The Iraq media and the Arab media in general is certainly NOT as balanced as Fox or CNN. The idea that the U.S. placing articles will corrupt it is ludicrous. It is like throwing a bucket of water on a man who has been swimming in the ocean for an hour AND is still in the ocean. You can only get so wet. In the sense that the U.S. stories are probably more accurate and better researched than the average story in that media, it might even improve the situation - a bucket of fresh water better than the salty stuff.

Posted by: Jack at January 17, 2006 10:30 PM
Comment #114217
Advertising works. People claim not to be influenced by it, but they buy the products.

Ok. I used the term “paid advertising” because that’s what everybody else was calling the Defense Department’s paid propaganda. I thought we were all on the same page. I apologize. I shouldn’t have assumed that. Please insert “paid propaganda” everywhere I used the term “paid advertisement”.

My point still stands, though. Because those stories were bought and paid for, their credibility is dimisnished no matter how truthful they are. The fact that the DoD had to secretly pay for good news makes it feel dirty.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 18, 2006 3:45 AM
Comment #114484

Paid propaganda works too. What are political ads? In fact, we worry about it because we know it does work.

The word propaganda has connotations. In theory, it just means propagating information, but it has developed the connotation of being untrue. Ours is not propaganda by the commonly used definition.

Press manipulation is bad or good depending on the situation. Civil Rights groups manipulate the media in the south. There is a case study (described in Freakonmics) of a guy who spied on the KKK and worked messages ridiculing them into media programs. This helped break the power of the KKK. Was this a unethical? If you can’t break into a corrupt system with the truth, is it unethical to break in with money or influence?


Posted by: Jack at January 18, 2006 10:27 PM
Comment #114502

From the entry for Propaganda at Wikipedia:

For instance, in English, “propaganda” was originally a neutral term used to describe the dissemination of information in favor of a certain cause. Over time, however, the term acquired the negative connotation of disseminating false or misleading information in favor of a certain cause. Strictly speaking, a message does not have to be untrue to qualify as propaganda, but it may omit so many pertinent truths that it becomes highly misleading.

An example of misleading would be hiding the source of the information, and hiding the fact that its inclusion was paid for.

There is a case study (described in Freakonmics) of a guy who spied on the KKK and worked messages ridiculing them into media programs. This helped break the power of the KKK. Was this a unethical?
Yes, it could be argued that it was unethical. It wasn’t propaganda, however (other than the original meaning of simply spreading information), because the clan secrets were revealed in episodes of Superman, as part of the storyline. Superman is obviously fiction, and it’s unlikely that many listeners who weren’t themselves in the Klan had any idea that the information was true.
Posted by: Charles Wager at January 19, 2006 12:21 AM
Comment #114616

AP

I could have written the Wiki article.

A couple of things that are important in the definition is the part on STRICKLY SPEAKING and omiting so many truths.

I understand this is a slippery slope, but the provenance of information may or may not be a pertinent truth. We have the logic ad hominem fallacy that tells us that truth is NOT dependent on who says it. If Hitler says that it is usually cold in January, it doesn’t change the nature of the truth just because he said it.

The whole field of PR is full of ambiguities. Whenever you are trying to persuade, you can be accused of propaganda. We must choose information to present and we will always choose that based on our beliefs and values.

Posted by: Jack at January 19, 2006 12:09 PM
Comment #114896
If Hitler says that it is usually cold in January, it doesn’t change the nature of the truth just because he said it.

Sure, but I’d still stick my head out the window to check. ;)

Nobody’s debating the veracity of the information, but when people read these stories, then find out that the DoD had to pay to have them written, they question the motive. It’s human nature, and I’m surprised that it surprises you.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 20, 2006 12:02 PM
Comment #114913

AP

I expect they will question it, but I suspect it will make less of a differnce. ALL news in the Arab world is manipulated. I doubt anyone’s faith in their media will be harmed by this.

Posted by: Jack at January 20, 2006 1:27 PM
Comment #115420

>>I expect they will question it, but I suspect it will make less of a differnce. ALL news in the Arab world is manipulated. I doubt anyone’s faith in their media will be harmed by this.

jack,

If we are really trying to help establish democracy in Iraq, wouldn’t it be wiser to show them how it is supposed to work rather than how this administration has caused it to work in America?

If we are not trying to promote democracy in Iraq, wouldn’t it be smarter to bring our folks home?

Posted by: Marysdude at January 22, 2006 2:56 AM
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