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Ear to the Ground

Congress Should Probe U.S. Propaganda in Iraqi Press

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Posted on Dec 2, 2005

Now that the Pentagon has admitted to subverting the fragile efforts to build democracy in Iraq, will Congress begin an investigation of how this happened? The first question should be who in the Pentagon decided that he or she had the right to put words in the mouth of the Prophet Muhammad.


12/01: No single episode, not the torture pictures nor the Haliburton ripoffs, so perfectly captures the betrayal of the U.S. model of a free society as our military covertly buying the Iraqi press. The disgrace is compounded by dragging the Prophet Mohammed into this terminally deceitful enterprise.

—Posted by Robert Scheer.

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By nathan johnson, December 6, 2005 at 1:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

i agree with number 12…....we werent printing lies ............and the press over there does not operate the same way as over here…......they dont even pretend at a pretence of objectivity…...they blatantly editorialize their stories…......while i disagree with the use of it…as seen what has happened and will happen to the credibility of any future “good” stories printed…....i dont see how this is some wild conspiracy to trample free press or some wild bush conspiracy to open the gates of hell and let forth the demons

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By rickonine, December 4, 2005 at 9:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t see the problem.

Even the LA Times admitted that the material that was published was factually true.  However, it would not have been printed without the monetary-incentive.

This is the way things work in Iraq.  When in Rome…

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By DeepEndNews, December 4, 2005 at 10:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“The first question should be who in the Pentagon decided that he or she had the right to put words in the mouth of the Prophet Muhammad.”
——-
Possibly the same person who dreamed up the goofy idea of claiming the neo-cons are “Christian” . . .

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By @, December 4, 2005 at 10:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Congress “should probe propaganda?? WHAT Congress? The NEW Congress, one supposes you mean.

The first thing Congress should do is impeach these nazis. The second thing it should do is assure that U.S. voters have paper ballots, come the first of the year.

“Probe propaganda”?? They paid for it, didn’t they?

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By ted mills, December 3, 2005 at 11:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No, I don’t think that the propaganda story is a big crisis, *but* it is interesting that, as far as the ABC News report on it that I saw on Thursday, it has caused many to link this Iraq story to the Armstrong William case, bringing that back into the spotlight. For as ABC News pointed out, we only paid the Iraqi writer $500 to $1500 a story to write/publish our crap, but Williams got tens of thousands of dollars.

And let me add my congratulations to Mr. Scheer for coming back so quickly after the LA Times incident, and keeping his voice out there.

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By ron roston, December 3, 2005 at 5:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Do you think the U.S. is buying the Iraqi Press?  I’m not sure.  Maybe the White House via the Pentagon is trying to buy the American Press again.  Consider.  You pay for and plant a story in Iraqi but it is then distributed to American outlets, particularly media favorable to the Bushies.  They can then, presumably innocent, quote the Iraquis. They don’t even have to translate the articles.  After all, they were written in English.  Meanwhile, a bunch of Bushies preferably military can provide cover by debating the planting of stories as possibly appropriate to warfare.  Bush wants to influence Americans more than he wants to seduce Iraquis.  Maybe this is a very crafty end run.

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By insomnia@livejournal.com, December 3, 2005 at 3:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“What are the Iraqi people supposed to think now that they know the US Military places war reports in their local papers”?

Well, I know what the obvious thought will be for members of the insurgency—any Iraqi reporter who reports on positive news stories is a US agent and deserves a bullet in the back of the head.

Frankly, I think the smallest aspect of this story is that the US bribed newspapers. More telling was the Knight-Ridder article documenting how the US turned the Baghdad Press Club into a payoff club, bribing Iraqi reporters with about twice the average Iraqi monthly income to report only the good news from Iraq.

These individual acts of bribery cannot be mistaken or misconstrued as a kind of “advertising” as the DoD claimed. These payoffs were in violation of both military guidelines and, most likely, in violation of Iraqi law.

The people who put these policies into place effectively declared open hunting season on the very people the US needs to influence the most. Most notably, they will find that this policy of bribery backfires, as they will soon be forced to stop openly paying off reporters.

Expect Iraqi reporters to no longer have a motive for writing the “good news”, even if good news actually exists. Expect them instead to write anti-US articles designed to make them less of a target.

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By Mark Kraft, December 3, 2005 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: Russ’ comment:

Excuse me, but what the hell is “left wing jingism”? Is that a word?! I don’t think so.

Assuming the writer meant to use the word “jingoism”, it’s abundantly clear he doesn’t know the definition of that particular word.

I can only hope that future critics of this site embracify more meanification in their illoquistics. wink

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By MediaCitizen, December 2, 2005 at 9:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ummm . . .

Was this supposed to be a story or a hyperbolic twitch? 

The Bush administration’s assault on the truth is much bigger than bribing Iraqi newspapers; it extends into American media where they have launched a multi-pronged campaign to undermine the journalistic standards and practices that underpin not only a free press but our democracy.

The LA Times exposé was a superb piece of journalism. But the story is here in America, where the Fourth Estate is withering under an unprecedented White House assault designed to intimidate, smear and discredit investigative journalism — and allow the president and his political cronies to lie with impunity.

If your interested:

http://mediacitizen.blogspot.com/

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By TJ, December 2, 2005 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What are the Iraqi people supposed to think now that they know the US Military places war reports in their local papers: “News so good the United States has to pay to get it printed?”  Or how about:  “Any good news about the war in my paper must have been placed there by the United States?”  I am not saying that the military or any other branch of government should stay out of the news reporting business (although there may be many good reasons why they should).  It just seems that they haven’t thought this through very well if they really want people to believe what they are reading; which is the point after all, isn’t it?  How does this help us acheive our goals in Iraq?

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By Yankee in exile, December 2, 2005 at 11:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What about buying the American Press?  Armstrong Williams and any further investigation of buying pro-administration news with our tax dollars have surely gone silent.

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By Jawfish, December 2, 2005 at 10:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The use of propaganda in Iraq is irritating, especially since it seems to have been clumsy, but I don’t see the great moral crisis.

That is, I do see a great ethical and public crisis, but propaganda in a war zone seems to me to be pretty much expected. I am sure no one in Iraq was fooled, just as they aren’t fooled by the administration’s claims that we will leave one day. We blew up their infrastructure, destroyed their army and police, attacked civilians, and our presence is a permanent stimulus for local terrorism. A few puff pieces don’t amount to much.

The process of deciding to go to war was corrupt, the planning for after the war was incompetent, the military management has been disconnected from reality. Now people are surprised that Americans beat prisoners, run corrupt kickback schemes, and pay to have stories run in the local press?

Yeah yeah yeah, whiny lefties have been shedding tears for years about it. So what?

How about we spent the money, killed the Americans, and the Chinese got the oil? How’s that for a fiasco even a right-winger can appreciate?

It’s the Orwellian press at home that worries me. Half the country has been swindled, and worse, made so cynical that massive crony capitalism seems normal. We’ll continue to get a hundred stories about some low-life druggies who poisoned their baby, for every one on yet another Republican rip-off. It’s depressing.

John

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By russ, December 2, 2005 at 9:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You got to be kidding me Scheer!

No wonder the L.A. Times even for all its left wing jingism let you go…

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