"The front line in the war for hearts and minds in the Arab world and
beyond is here, at the U.S. Central Command headquarters and media
center," writes the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof from Doha, Qatar. Kristof gives the Bush administration credit for reaching out to the foreign press, noting that Al Jazeera was assigned a front row seat for press briefings while the Times was in the second row. But he suggests international journalists see through the spin.
"This is propaganda," a Chinese journalist told Kristof at a U.S. military briefing in Doha. "I was born and grew up in a propaganda country, and so I know it well." The Chinese journalist continues, "Actually, they do the propaganda very well, better than we do it. We in China can learn from this propaganda."
"Moreover, as Raghida Dergham, a columnist for Al Hayat, an Arabic
newspaper published in London, notes, 'It's the policy, stupid.' Arab
perceptions of America are framed by Mr. Bush's coziness with Ariel
Sharon. No amount of spin can soften that; it will take a serious and
balanced Middle East peace initiative of the kind that Tony Blair is
urging," Kristof writes.