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Air Battle

November 30th, 2005 - 9:22 am

The LA Times reports on the US propaganda effort in Iraq:

As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

The articles, written by U.S. military “information operations” troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.

Smart move, given that the Iraq Campaign is one small part of the Terror War – in which the media is the arm of decision. If you don’t manage information, you lose.

The LA Times, however, doesn’t seem to get that. The story continues:

Though the articles are basically factual, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments, officials said. Records and interviews indicate that the U.S. has paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of such articles, with headlines such as “Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism,” since the effort began this year.

What we ought to be told – and what the story doesn’t make clear – is whether the Pentagon intentionally admitted to this (legal) program, or if it was “outed” by an overzealous press.

Others, of course, are already crying “Fascism!” Literally. I was forwarded the LA Times story by someone calling himself “BushFascismWatch.” Here’s what his website has to say:

Fake news is being used in the Iraq propaganda war, reports the Los Angeles Times. “[T]he U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

Except, of course, the news isn’t “fake.” Biased? Yes, but it’s supposed to be – it’s part of the propaganda campaign. Propaganda is important in any war, but it’s vital in a media war.

That’s not fascism; that’s fighting a battle where no one gets shot at and no one gets killed.

UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein has more – much more.

UPDATE: Hogarth comments:

See the forest, not the trees. This is not the LA Times against the US government. This is the LA Times lashing out at newspapers that are actually making money.

It’s funny because it’s sad, and maybe true.

UPDATE: And even more from Rusty Shackleford, who took on the Libertarians so I wouldn’t have to.

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