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Hullabaloo


Monday, December 05, 2005

 
Orwell's Dog

by digby

President Bush is disturbed by the U.S. military's practice of paying Iraqi papers to run articles emphasizing positive developments in the country and will end the program if it violates the principles of a free media, a senior aide said Sunday.

"He's very troubled by it" and has asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to look into the pay-to-print program, national security adviser Stephen Hadley said.


That's because he had ordered that all the unfriendly press operations in Iraq be bombed.

Christopher Hitchens is shocked, simply shocked to find out that we are doing this.

This time, someone really does have to be fired. The revelation that Defense Department money, not even authorized by Congress for the purpose, has been outsourced to private interests and then used to plant stories in the Iraqi press is much more of a disgrace and a scandal than anyone seems so far to have said.

[...]

... sometimes a whole new line is crossed and "propaganda" corrupts the whole process by becoming a covert operation against one's "own" side. The worst violation so far has been the spreading of a falsified story about the death of Pat Tillman in Afghanistan. Not only was he slain by "friendly fire" instead of by the foe—which is a tragedy in far more ways than just as a setback for recruitment—but the family and friends of this all-American hero were purposely deceived about what had really happened. It would be trivial to add that they were also pointlessly deceived (how long do the geniuses at DoD imagine that such a thing can be kept quiet?) except that it greatly added to the callousness of the thing, and except that this same pointlessness and moral idiocy are now apparent in the "good news" scandal in Iraq.

[...]

[J]ust picture the scene for a moment. An Iraqi family living in, say, Anbar Province, picks its way down the stoop to collect the newly delivered newspaper. This everyday operation is hazardous, but less so than going down to the corner to pick it up, because there are mad people around who do not believe that anything should be in print, save the Quran, not to mention nasty local potentates who do not like to read criticism of themselves. Further, the streets are often dark and littered with risky debris. The lead story, however, reports that all is well in the Anbar region; indeed, things are going so well that there is even a slight chance that they will one day get better. Who is supposed to be fooled by this? The immediate target is, one supposes, the long-suffering people of Iraq. But over time, the printing and dissemination of cheery reportage must have been intended to be picked up and replayed back into the American electorate. If done from state coffers, that is probably not even legal.

It is, anyway, not so much a matter of fooling people as of insulting them. The prostitute journalist is a familiar and well-understood figure in the Middle East, and Saddam Hussein's regime made lavish use of the buyability of the regional press. Now we, too, have hired that clapped-out old floozy, Miss Rosie Scenario, and sent her whoring through the streets. If there was one single thing that gave a certain grandeur to the change of regime in Baghdad, it was the reopening of the free press (with the Communist Party's paper the first one back on the streets just after the statue fell) and the profusion of satellite dishes, radio stations, and TV programs. There were some crass exceptions—Paul Bremer's decision to close Muqtada Sadr's paper being one of the stupidest and most calamitous decisions—but in general it was something to be proud of. Now any fool is entitled to say that a free Iraqi paper is a mouthpiece, and any killer is licensed to allege that a free Iraqi reporter is a mercenary. A fine day's work. Someone should be fired for it.


For a guy who models himself on George Orwell he sure is a naive little thing, isn't he? Where has he been?

The Bush administration doesn't just believe this will work in Iraq. They think they can bullshit the American people into believing they are better off economically than they really are, too. Their entire agenda boils down to convincing the American people that they can believe them or they can believe their lying eyes. They've been doing this from the beginning and it worked for a while after 9/11 when Bush was riding around like country on his white charger and the press was holding his codpiece. It doesn't seem to be working anymore.




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