The Pentagon is training civilian reporters on its military bases for war reporting. "One hundred twenty journalists trained last November at the Quantico Marine Corps Base and the Norfolk Naval Station; another wave of reporters trained last month at Fort Benning, and another session is scheduled this month at Fort Dix in New Jersey," Democracy Now reports.
The PR industry needs to mull "a shift in strategy if US goes to war," writes Sherri Deatherage Green. During the first few days of fighting, she says, PR pros should hold off on product promotions. "Few activities could be more futile than pitching stories when war reports fill every second of network time," she writes. "But if military action continues over time, companies should find tasteful and appropriate ways to revive their marketing." Also, "Understatement might be the best messaging approach during wartime.
HBO Films has finally gotten around to admitting what PR Watch readers knew all along: "allegations of Iraqi soldiers taking babies from incubators (in 1990) ...
Last week U.N. weapons inspectors swooped in to inspect the Iraqi manufacturing plant that U.S. planes bombed in 1991. Iraq said the plant made infant milk formula; the U.S. said it made biological weapons. Mark Crispin Miller examines the evidence and concludes that Iraq's version was correct. Nevertheless, "Iraq, in trying to publicize the targeting of its civilian infrastructure, had engaged in clumsy propaganda (which backfired in the West), while the US counter-propaganda was apparently disinformation (which succeeded).
In each war and military action since losing in Vietnam, the US military has exerted increased control and censorship over battlefield reporting. Now the Pentagon claims to be changing its ways, in part to gain a propaganda advantage. According to the New York Times, "military officials said in interviews
that limits on access to frontline units ... would be loosened if President Bush ordered
military action. The Pentagon has made similar pledges of greater access
before without making good on the promise. Even now, as the
"At a press briefing Dec. 18, State Dept. public diplomacy chief Charlotte Beers announced that her division has asked author Ken Pollack to interrupt a book tour and travel overseas to talk about his book 'The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq.' Turns out the State Dept. also has been courting foreign journalists over the past year.
"The United States edited out more than 8,000 crucial pages of Iraq's 11,800-page dossier on weapons, before passing on a sanitized version to the 10 non-permanent members of the United Nations security council," reports the UK's Sunday Herald. Apparently the report includes embarrassing evidence of U.S. and European culpability in aiding the Iraqi weapons programs, dating back to before the Gulf War, but covering the period of Saddam Hussein's rise and his worst crimes.
"A dozen years after the Gulf War, public perceptions of it are now very helpful to the White House," media critic Norman Solomon writes in his Media Beat column. "That's part of a timeworn pattern.
CBS's promo for its program says: "Politicians have had to sell the public on going to war since Colonial times, but they never had the arsenal of advertising and communications techniques the Bush administration is using to sell a possible war on Iraq. Bob Simon reports on those techniques and those employed by the elder Bush prior to the 1991 Gulf War.
Tonight's HBO movie "Live from Baghdad" has journalists repeating the false Iraqi-baby-killing scam perpetrated by Hill & Knowlton PR in 1990. That outrageous stunt before a make-believe congressional committee was part of a multi-million dollar propaganda campaign funded by Kuwait to make sure the US went to war. The crying teenage witness "Nayirah" seen in tonight's HBO film was actually the daughter of Kuwait's ambassador to the U.S. A year later journalists documented that her babies-thrown-from-incubators testimony was false, but most people still remember it as true.