Desert Deceit Part III

Here's more on the effort to use the Iraqi media as a U.S. propaganda tool in today's New York Times.

Here is what the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had to say about this program, according to the story:

"Pentagon officials said General Pace and other top officials were disturbed by the reported details of the propaganda campaign and demanded explanations from senior officers in Iraq, the official said.

When asked about the article Wednesday night on the ABC News program "Nightline," General Pace said, "I would be concerned about anything that would be detrimental to the proper growth of democracy."

Here is another sane view of this effort from the Times story.

"I think it's absolutely wrong for the government to do this," said Patrick Butler, vice president of the International Center for Journalists in Washington, which conducts ethics training for journalists from countries without a history of independent news media. "Ethically, it's indefensible."

Mr. Butler, who spoke from a conference in Wisconsin with Arab journalists, said the American government paid for many programs that taught foreign journalists not to accept payments from interested parties to write articles and not to print government propaganda disguised as news.

"You show the world you're not living by the principles you profess to believe in, and you lose all credibility," he said.

Now, some of the posters on this blog -- taking what I guess we would call a relativistic, pragamatic, wordly view -- seem to see nothing fundamentally wrong with an effort to plant stories with hidden motives and disguised authors in the Iraqi media. Maybe if I were a neocon war planner in Dick Cheney's office, I'd agree.

The problem is I'm a journalist. And watching my country pervert my profession (which has enough problems of its own making, by the way) in this manner is disgusting. On the other hand, it's not surprising for an administration that has tried its share of bought-and-paid-for bogus journalism right here at home. (Hello Armstrong Williams and the video news releases.)
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