"Arab-American activist Nawar Shora checked his e-mail one day and found scores of angry messages asking why he hated Americans and Jews," writes Anick Jesdanun. "The messages were responding to e-mails marked as coming from him. Only one big problem: he never sent the hate mail." Shora was the victim of a new form of harassment in which fake e-mail is sent using real addresses. "The tactic, known as e-mail spoofing, requires little technical know-how and no illegal computer break-ins.
Just when you thought American TV couldn't stoop any lower, now we have the plight of Ali Abbas, a 12-year-old Iraqi boy who lost both of his arms, along with his parents, three siblings and ten other relatives, in a missile strike on Baghdad. Now he has become "a redemption story, the kind we like," muses Joan Walsh. The U.S. military has flown him to Kuwait, where reporters are breathlessly following his medical treatment. "But some of the stories have tried to deal with an uncomfortable fact. Ali is, um, well, he's angry at the U.S. for killing his family," Walsh writes.
Columnist Frank Rich writes, "There's almost nothing in the war, it seems, that cannot be exploited as a network promo. ... When Victoria Clarke at the Pentagon says Saddam is responsible for 'decades and decades and decades of torture and oppression the likes of which I think the world has not ever seen before,' no one on Fox or MSNBC is going to gainsay her by bringing up Hitler and Stalin.
Bill Berkowitz writes that "a relatively quick war against an overwhelmed and outmatched foe -- sanitized of civilian casualties -- has been a tonic for a Pentagon hungry for good publicity. ... Embedding reporters is the brainchild of Victoria 'Torie' Clarke, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. Clarke brings considerable PR experience to the task of winning the spin war.
Australian cameraman Paul Moran, who was killed by a suicide bomber on March 20, had worked for the Rendon Group, a Washington-based PR firm currently being used by the Pentagon, the Adelaide Advertiser reports. At the time of his death, Moran was on an assignment for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in northern Iraq.
PR Week commentator Paul Holmes writes that "the 'embedding' of reporters in military units is the most brilliant
strategic decision of this entire campaign, since its effect appears to
be the transformation of usually intelligent reporters into Pentagon
[Public Relations Officers]. As someone in the administration obviously realised, it's hard to
hold on to journalistic integrity when you're dependent for continued
"A recent Washington Post article describing the killing of civilians by U.S. soldiers at a checkpoint outside the Iraqi town of Najaf proved that 'embedded' journalists do have the ability to report on war in all its horror. But the rejection by some U.S. outlets of Post correspondent
Veteran military correspondent Chris Hedges writes that "when the nation goes to war, the press goes to
war with it. The blather on CNN or Fox or MSNBC is part of a long and
sad tradition. The narrative we are fed about war by the state, the entertainment
industry and the press is a myth. ... The coverage of war by the press has one consistent and pernicious
theme--the worship of our weapons and our military might. Retired
officers, breathless reporters, somber news anchors, can barely hold
An executive who claimed to have developed an online file-trading service that intentionally violated copyright protection laws now says that he made up the whole thing to sell his book. Pieter Plass, author of The Honest Thief, calls it an "April Fool's joke," but his PR firm, the Alliant Group, isn't laughing. They fell for the hoax and helped spread it, as did the Wall Street Journal, Business Wire, CNET, and Wired News.