Michael Totten

How to Manipulate an American

I can’t think of a single head of state anywhere in the world I’d be less interested in interviewing than Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. The man lies like he breathes, as a friend recently put it. Just about everyone who interviews him comes off looking ridiculous, partly because he would never sit down with someone who actually knows what they’re talking about, but also because he’s a master manipulator.

He has never fooled me, not for even five seconds, but I’ve been documenting his crimes for the better part of a decade, so he has no chance. He has, however, successfully jerked the chains of some of our most powerful leaders in both political parties who should have known better but scandalously did not. He’s able to do this, or at least he used to be able to do this, because he knows exactly what gullible Westerners yearn to hear.

The hacker group Anonymous broke into the email accounts of some of his presidential aides and published the preparation notes for his recent interview with Barbara Walters. Read the whole thing at Foreign Policy, but here’s a taste:

After doing a major research on the American Media’s coverage on the Syrian issue and the American Society’s perspective of what is happening on the Syrian ground, I have concluded some important points that might be helpful for the preparation of the upcoming interview with Barbara Walters.

I based my research on online articles written about the Syrian issue, my personal contacts with the American journalists, my father and Syrian expatriates in the States.
The Major points and dimensions that has been mentioned a lot in the American media are:

Mistakes:

· It is hugely important and worth mentioning that “mistakes” have been done in the beginning of the crises because we did not have a well-organized “police force”. American Psyche can be easily manipulated when they hear that there are “mistakes” done and now we are “fixing it”. Its worth mentioning also what is happening now in Wall Street and the way the demonstrations are been suppressed by police men, police dogs and beatings.

Bloodshed:

· Bloodshed is another subject brought up in the American media. There is no mention of how many “soldiers and security forces have been killed”. They think that bloodshed is done by the government to attack the “innocent civilians” and “peaceful demonstrators”. Mentioning “armed groups” in the interview is extremely important and we can use “American and British articles” to prove that there are “armed gangs”.

The Comments:

· The comments that follow any article in the American Media are a very important tool to use in the interview. The Americans now believe that their government has failed two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are asking their government to stop interfering in other countries businesses and sovereignty and to start taking care of the American internal issues.