Propaganda

By Diane Farsetta on April 20, 2009

It was a shocking revelation. Exactly one year ago today, the New York Times published an in-depth account of the Pentagon military analyst program, a covert effort to cultivate pundits who are retired military officers as the Bush administration's "message force multipliers." The elaborate -- and presumably costly -- program flourished at the nexus of government war propaganda; the private interests of the officer-pundits, many of whom also worked as lobbyists or consultants for military contractors; and major news organizations that didn't ask tough questions about U.S. military operations while failing to screen their paid commentators for even the most glaring conflicts of interest.

The story was huge, but it wasn't easy to break. It took two years for reporter David Barstow and others at the Times to pry the relevant documents from the Pentagon. Seven months later, Barstow helped us further understand how the U.S. "military-industrial-media complex" works, with another front-page exposé on one spectacularly conflicted Pentagon pundit, Barry McCaffrey.

On April 20, David Barstow received the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, for his work on the Pentagon pundit story.

By Diane Farsetta on April 20, 2009

Worried about "increasing international willingness to negotiate with Tehran over its nuclear program," the Israeli government is ramping up its anti-Iranian messaging. Israel has committed 8 million NIS, or around U.S.$2 million, for the campaign.

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By Sheldon Rampton on April 08, 2009

We recently received an email query from a high school student asking some questions about one of the books that John Stauber and I have written about the war in Iraq. Rather than answer those questions individually, I thought I'd answer them publicly here:

1. What are the top techniques deployed by the government to falsely inform the public?

There are a range of techniques used by governments, corporations and other parties to misinform the public. Some of the techniques that I find most objectionable are:

By John Stauber on March 28, 2009

Liberal think tanks and advocacy organizations formed during the Bush/Cheney regime are working in close and well-funded coordination as a PR messaging machine for the Obama Administration's foreign and domestic policies. A Washington Post blog noted that the Center for American Progress is now running Progressive Media which was begun by Tom Matzzie and David Brock in 2008 and now "represents a serious ratcheting up of efforts to present a united liberal front in the coming policy wars." Progressive Media is a joint project with CAP and Brock's Media Matters Action Network and "headed by well-known liberal operative Tara McGuinness." Matzzie recently reminisced about his work with MoveOn's "Tara McGuinness, Eli Pariser and others" organizing Americans Against Escalation in Iraq. Today MoveOn, USAction and others in that coalition are working hard to push Obama's policies, including rationalizlng or defending his escalation of the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan as "sustainable security."

By Diane Farsetta on March 12, 2009

In February, the U.S. Army asked for proposals to boost its Iraq public affairs work with "three civilian PR specialists and two Arabic-speaking media monitors to work in Iraq and two staffers stateside." Then, the deadline for proposals was extended to mid-March.

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By Diane Farsetta on February 09, 2009

Stop Government Funded Propaganda"You want to make sure you edit it in the right way," said Major Alayne Conway, who served as a U.S. military public affairs officer in Iraq.

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By Diane Farsetta on February 06, 2009

"Over the past five years, the money the [U.S.] military spends on winning hearts and minds at home and abroad has grown by 63 percent, to at least $4.7 billion this year," reports the Associated Press. "That's almost as much as it spent on body armor for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2006. ...

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By Diane Farsetta on February 02, 2009

"I want to make sure that we strengthen prohibitions against domestic covert propaganda campaigns aimed essentially at breaking down the Constitutional barriers between who controls policy and who makes war," stressed Representative Paul Hodes.

By Diane Farsetta on January 20, 2009

"It is a whitewash," said Representative Paul Hodes. "It appears to be the parting gift of the Pentagon to the [former] president [Bush]," he added, referring to an internal investigation (pdf) into the Pentagon's pundit program.

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