The Chinese government has pledged 45 billion yuan (nearly $6.6 billion) for media that target foreign audiences, "in an aggressive global drive to improve the country's image internationally." The Xinhua News Agency wants to use the funding to "expand its overseas bureaus from about 100 to 186," nearly enough to have a bureau in every country.
"To gain greater international support for Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip," Israeli Foreign Minister (and candidate for Prime Minister) Tzipi Livni directed the Foreign Ministry to lead "an aggressive and diplomatic international public relations campaign." In addition to meetings with foreign officials and interviews with international media, Israeli officials are posting videos to YouTube and
There's a telling email exchange quoted in the Defense Department Inspector General's report (pdf) on America Supports You (ASY), a Pentagon program launched in 2004, ostensibly to boost troop morale.
Allison Barber, who founded and led ASY until her recent resignation as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Internal Communications and Public Liaison (and who infamously helped President Bush stage a teleconference with troops in Iraq), asked in a June 2004 email: "Overseas, we make troops [not living on military bases] buy a digital receiver for their televisions so they can see AFRTS," the American Forces Radio and Television Service. "Is there a way for me to make this situation know [sic] to corporate America and offer them the option of 'sponsoring' a receiver? So the receiver might have a sticker on it that says 'brought to you by Sears'."
An attorney with the Defense Department's Standards of Conduct Office responded sharply: "Of course, you may not solicit anyone, especially corporate America, to sponsor the receivers. That's a no-no."
There's nothing quite like a hotly contested election. The candidates have their devoted supporters and angry detractors. Then there are vigorous debates over the issues, while some people question the integrity of the entire process.
We speak, of course, of the Falsies Awards.
This year marks the Center for Media and Democracy's (CMD's) fifth annual Falsies Awards. The Falsies are our attempt to shine an unflattering light on those responsible for polluting the information environment over the past year. We're happy to report that more people -- nearly 1,450 -- voted in this year's Falsies survey than ever before! We're also bestowing special recognition on one of this year's "winners."
Falsies recipients can collect their prizes -- a pair of Groucho Marx glasses, our two cents and a chance to atone for their spinning ways by making a detailed public apology -- by visiting CMD's office in Madison, Wisconsin. This year's Gold and Silver Falsies go to masters of war deception, while the Bronze Falsie recognizes a massive greenwash campaign. The first-ever Lifetime Achievement Falsie goes to a serial corporate front man, while a determined (if at times laughable) attempt at nation re-branding wins dishonorable mention. Then there are the Readers' Choice Falsies and Win Against Spin Awards, nominated by our survey participants.
What will it take, for the Defense Department officials involved to be held responsible for an illegal government propaganda campaign? Why don't news professionals realize that they need to vet their commentators and disclose any potential conflicts of interest to their audiences? When will the cable and network television stations that featured the Pentagon's pundits tell viewers that their war commentary was anything but independent?
An in-depth article on one of 75 retired military officers covertly cultivated by the Pentagon to be its "message force multipliers" recently raised these questions yet again. Retired general, NBC News analyst and industry consultant Barry McCaffrey is a prime example of "a deeply opaque world," where "privileged access to senior government officials" and "war commentary can fit hand in glove with undisclosed commercial interests," writes New York Times reporter David Barstow.
After outing the Pentagon's pundit program -- which recruited some 75 retired military officers who are frequent media commentators, to serve as the Bush Administration's "message force multipliers" -- New York Times reporter David Barstow profiles one particularly conflicted pundit,
The White House says that the Iraqi Parliament's approval of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) is cause for celebration and a sign that we have won the war. White House Press Secretary Dana Perino rejected the idea that the Agreement's stipulation of troop withdrawal in three years is in fact exactly the type of timetable that President Bush has consistently opposed.