The Pentagon, which was criticized in '05 for paying Iraqi media to run positive stories, is now hiring Iraqi journalists to write for the Defense Dept.’s freshly minted Arabic language website. DOD wants stories promoting democracy, security and peace. Mom, baseball and apple pie are next.
Amy Mitchell, deputy director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, beefed that DOD is out to “control the message either by bypassing the media or putting its version of the message out before others.”
You bet it is! And why not? The days of dropping leaflets on a country to drum up political support are so over. The Internet is the place to be, especially when attempting to reach young people.
The site is an extension of DOD’s “information operations” program. This blogger believes the Pentagon’s latest move is a step up from its clumsy effort to bribe the Iraqi media to run puff pieces.
If the Pentagon claims that it is only publishing content that is “accurate and true in fact and intent,” a more prominent disclosure statement should not be a problem. Let the Iraqis decide if Mawtani is a reputable news site. Readership will rightfully plummet if Mawtani is deemed a propaganda tool the does not reflect current life.
More Pentagon sites are planned for the U.S. Southern Command in Latin America and the Pacific Command in Asia. What about the Northern Command, which was established post 9/11 to cover the U.S., Canada and Mexico? Secretary Gates is probably working on that.