The exempt media and the Defeaticrats (TOTH to Mark Steyn) are keening in their echo-chambers about alleged Department of Defense payments to Iraqi newspapers. These payments are said to have secured column-inches for stories supportive of American and Iraqi military forces. They also encouraged Iraqi civilians to vote 10 days hence.
The reaction here? “Western standards of journalistic integrity are being violated! THIS IS PROPAGANDA!!” The New York Times had this to say (emphasis mine):
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee summoned top Pentagon officials to a closed-door session on Capitol Hill on Friday to explain a reported secret military campaign in Iraq to plant paid propaganda in the Iraqi news media. The White House also expressed deep concerns about the program.
Senior Pentagon officials said on Thursday that they had not yet received any explanation of the program from top generals in Iraq …
At a time when the State Department is paying contractors millions of dollars to promote professional and independent media, the military campaign appeared to defy the basic tenets of Western journalism.
Tell that to Dan Rather and Mary Mapes, or Jason Blair, or Walter “we lost during Tet” Cronkite. Somebody, for heaven’s sake, tells the ^%&# White House: Paying foreign publishers isn’t a moral dilemma when we’re at war. Paid propaganda is not morally inferior to ideological propaganda.
The justification for ideological propaganda is actually more difficult; a) when there’s a war on, and b) when you impugn others for behavior morally identical to your own.
Propaganda is aimed at influencing the opinions of people, rather than to impartially provide information. It is intended to influence people’s opinions actively, rather than to merely convey facts.
Everything, therefore, aside from advice to the lovelorn or recipes that you read in the pages of The New York Times or Washington Post is propaganda.
“[A]ppeared to defy basic tenets of Western journalism”, my ass.
The only difference between a DoD story placed in The Baghdad Daily Barrage vs. a full page ad in The Lansing State Journal, for example, would be the 6 point type at the top of the LSJ page: “Paid Advertisement”, that the LSJ runs when they’re actually paid directly. They do not run that disclaimer above the AP or Reuters propaganda they print every day – while actually paying AP and Reuters for the privilege! Go figure.
Oh, I guess there would be one other difference – the LSJ ad would be for a miracle surgical procedure or a hair loss palliative; the DoD ads touted individual liberty.
Next we’ll hear it wasn’t that we paid those Iraqi editors – who, BTW, are by definition responsible for their own integrity – but that we tortured them into doing it.
The integrity being violated here is the integrity of a psyop intended to help get our troops home. It’s being violated by the likes of Reuters and AP, abetted by the Defeaticrats.
Put it into the context of war, even if our vaunted MSM can’t: We’d have given our eye-teeth to have planted such stories in German newspapers during WWII, and I’m sure we did exactly that during our occupation of both Germany and Japan after WWII.
The difference is that our press doesn’t believe we’re at war now. But we are.
We’re at war, and the best the “Western press” can think to do is to pretend that something they abandoned years ago – journalistic “integrity” – matters more in wartime Iraq than it does here?
The press are the ones who defend the integrity of the press. It’s nobody else’s job. In this country the ramparts have long since been overrun.
You can always turn down a bribe, be it cash or an ideological opportunity. I’d prefer the former; it comes with a lower sanctimony quotient. See reference to Dan and Walter, above.
Rest assured this story isn’t being pushed by the Western exempt media because they’re concerned about the ethical purity of Iraqi publishers. No, it’s about an opportunity to damage George Bush while holding themselves up as paragons of integrity. What twaddle.
Should we be PO’d that our Federal Government used our tax dollars to propagandize us about one of its programs? Damn straight we should be. Should Armstrong Williams be ashamed and should he be fired for it? Yes. He was.
Should we be PO’d if the DoD uses our tax dollars to publish stories helpful to Iraqi confidence in advance of a vote for their first democratically elected government in history? A vote that, not coincidentally, advances the time table for the departure of our troops from a war zone?
If we’re “Western media” should we hammer on this story? If we’re Congressmen or Senators who have sworn an oath to defend the Constitution should we blather about it in public?
The only regret the United States should have about placing propaganda in Iraqi papers is that its revelation damages the effort to continue to counter-balance Al-Jazeera and The New York Times.
Western standards of journalism, in any case, are not being violated. First, it happened in Iraq; second, this is routine in France or Germany or Canada, and for AP and Reuters; third, when the Bush administration actually did it in this country (see Armstrong Williams, above) it raised a firefly, not a phoenix.
On the regrets front, we can be sure the exempt media won’t have any – even if such behavior would have been called treason in WWII, and even if it keeps our troops in harm’s way longer than necessary.