[Marxism] Propaganda Extravaganza: The White House briefing on Iran's evil deeds: a journalist's size-up

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Mon Feb 12 17:22:06 MST 2007


I have submitted a number of posts on this (Louis has submitted another
useful one) because (a) this administration move proved to be, in the short
term, a rallying point for prowar sentiment extending in the ruling class
media to the New York Times and other critics of Bush, and (b) because I
have suspected from the start that it could become a weak point in the
administration's armor. This is one of many potential shatter-points in the
offensive against Iran, which is clearly heading determinedly toward war but
is not necessarily;y fated to succeed in doing so.
Fred Feldman


>From "At Large" by Lisa Alexandrovna
February 12, 2007
Propaganda Extravaganza
So I have spent a good deal of this evening reading the accounts of the
"highly" secretive, "ultra-classified"  and "on monumental background" Iran
briefing that the White House orchestrated today,  just in time for Monday's
breaking news. What is quite clear is that US corporate press has become an
extension of the White House public relations department. 

Under what circumstances would the following criteria for a news story ever
be considered "journalism:"

1). Reporters met with experts and analysts who would not provide their
names, background, or any identifying information - even off the record.
There is no way to know who these unnamed experts were, what made them
experts, or anything that could be used to confirm or debunk their
allegations. In other words, the sources were not vetted and unknown.

2). The allegations that Iran was responsible for the downing of US
helicopter in Iraq by using advanced weapons were based on a set of
photographs of unknown origin, date, time, or any other contextual
information that could be confirmed or debunked. In other words, the facts
of the story are unsupportable and cannot be in any way explored.

3). The White House led officials present at the briefing would not give
their names either, despite this presentation being cleared by the White
House. In other words, despite this not being a leak, no one would stand by
the story.

4). The alleged intelligence was put together like a presentation one would
find at a new product roll out, planned weeks in advance even. Yet the
reason given for providing this information to the press is concern for US
troops on the ground in Iraq. Obviously something is wrong with either the
motive (when one works a story, one wants to understand motive for
informaton provided). The motive, as claimed, is concern for the troops -
but if there was concern for the troops, why did this presentation require
weeks of planning? If there was enough evidence to support a full blown
briefing such as this, then instead of planning for a public relations
extravaganza, one would think that the White House might be doing something
more important - for example, holding emergency briefings for Congress. 

5). White House officials, however, caution that this information cannot be
independently verified.

So, we have source of unknown credentials, allegations based on evidence
that cannot be vetted or properly investigated, officials who despite being
authorized to present this information to the press are unwilling to go on
the record, and a motive for providing this information that appears to be
disingenuous. What then, I ask, makes this news? Furthermore, what makes
this front page material with titles ranging from the mild "Iran arming
insurgents sources say" to the absurd "Iran killing US soldiers in Iraq?"

If the White House wants to stage a public relations event, they can do so
by the light of day. Journalists agreeing to attend this charade and then
reporting on it as though it were a). news and b). credible, need to resign.


I am really ashamed at the way my colleagues have presented themselves
today.

There are, however, a few exceptions... some who did show up, at least
covered the farce as it should have been covered, with subtle "I call
bullshit":

LA Times made this observation:

"The briefing seemed deliberately limited. The officials appeared to back
away from previous U.S. claims that Iran, a mostly Shiite country, was
supporting the Sunni Arab insurgents who have by far killed the largest
number of U.S. troops.

Instead, the officials alleged that Shiite groups ostensibly loyal to
radical anti-American cleric Muqtada Sadr were involved in the smuggling and
use of the weapons."

Newsweek said this: 

"A U.K. official familiar with the views of M.I.6, Britain's
foreign-intelligence service, said the British-whose troops in southern Iraq
are as close to front-line encounters with possible Iranian agents as U.S.
forces-cannot confirm that Iran has instructed its operatives to attack U.S.
troops.

<snip>

"Former CIA Middle East expert Riedel said that he never heard that Iran had
authorized its operatives to kill Americans. "I don't know of any such
instructions being passed," Riedel said. "If [the Bush administration] had
this kind of information you would think they would put it out."

That's about it for sensible. I won't bother listing the articles that went
off a cliff with this thing.







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