Thursday, December 01, 2005

Basically bullshit

Some people are hung up on the fact that the propaganda we're paying newspapers to print in Iraq was described by the Los Angeles Times as being "basically factual." If that's the case, they say, how can it be propaganda?

Since I've done this stuff before, I'll give you an example of how both statements can be accurate. Before I joined the National Guard, I was a public affairs type in the Navy. During a tour in Iceland, a warrant officer explain the job of public affairs this way. I remember it, I think, word-for-word.
If the admiral smoked crack in the nursery of the hospital and, in the process, burned the hospital down, our job is to write a story about what a good job the base fire department did.
"Basically factual" can sometimes mean full of crap.

Or, as the Pentagon puts it, "technically true but misleading." There's a lot of that going around.

2 Comments:

Blogger Bill from INDC said...

Unfortunately, this isn't what Dorkafork's post actually says:

If that's the case, they say, how can it be propaganda?

He uses basically factual to contrast it with the NYT, which fails to even meet that standard. Nice strawman.

And in the subsequent comments, he clarifies, quite reasonably:

My only beef is with the word "propaganda", because it is a loaded negative term. I don't see the situation as being fundamentally different from PR work or even mainstream journalism.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Nitpicker said...

The GAO was the organization that brought term "covert propaganda" into the mix, so I don't think that anyone at the Times need apologize for it.

There is much more wrong with the post as well, especially the argument that the propaganda wasn't "covert." Yes there was a contract for the company's work, but, good Lord, it doesn't say "and they will hire some locals to pass off stories of their own" now, does it? Guess what? There are plenty of companies who are hired openly but do covert work.

5:15 PM  

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