December 21, 2003 4:04 PM   Subscribe

Who's Afraid of a Little Propaganda? The Pentagon decides to bypass the filter and give Americans direct news access.
posted by the fire you left me (28 comments total)
Seems like an especially clumsy version of VOA, Radio Marti, et cetera. I'd be surprised if it a.) gets off the ground, and b.) lasts more than a year or two.

But I don't get the bizarre wording of the FPP.
posted by Vidiot at 4:21 PM on December 21, 2003

But I don't get the bizarre wording of the FPP.

It's called an ax to grind


posted by Mick at 4:58 PM on December 21, 2003

We don't need a news channel run by the Pentagon. Everybody knows that we're at war with Oceania and always have been.

Ok, now that the Orwell is out of the way...carry on about your business.
posted by fatbobsmith at 5:30 PM on December 21, 2003

I can only assume that these broadcasts will not be handled by the United States Information Agency, which is prohibited by the Smith-Mundt Act from broadcasting domestically.
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:53 PM on December 21, 2003

What's wrong with a C-SPAN Baghdad, with news streams open and available for public and private use? Sounds far more transparent than your average local news broadcast.
posted by Asparagirl at 6:34 PM on December 21, 2003

the "4th estate" sold itself out like a $3 whore a generation ago, i can only laugh bitterly at its pathetic mewlings now.
posted by quonsar at 6:36 PM on December 21, 2003

The bizarre wording of the FPP is from the linked-to article, yes?

Anyway, I don't imagine this is harmful. If it's propaganda, it'll be no more harmful than the other 499 channels of propaganda. If it's not propaganda, it would be a good thing to have.
posted by hattifattener at 8:43 PM on December 21, 2003

I'm with Quonsar - I'd guess that a "Pentagon channel" might be - in it's own fashion - more honest than Fourth-Estate network news.

"Pathetic mewlings" - heh heh.
posted by troutfishing at 9:28 PM on December 21, 2003

It's called an ax to grind

It's spelled "AXE."
posted by crazy finger at 9:46 PM on December 21, 2003

It's spelled "AXE."
Or not.
posted by kickingtheground at 10:41 PM on December 21, 2003

Right, the Pentagon (and government in general) has NO agenda at all! Yup.

Might I point out to you all that just because TV news and newspapers often suck royally, that doesn't mean that a GOVERNMENT-RUN news channel would be an improvement. Bias doesn't counter bias. TRUTH counters bias.
posted by Cranky Media Guy at 1:02 AM on December 22, 2003

What Cranky Media Guy said in spades. Do we really want to get our news from Big Brother? We should be holding current media to account, not accepting even less objective sources.

I am disturbed at the increasing trend of "embedding." It ain't just the military doing it, either. The Miami police embedded reporters during the WCO. Lots of unhealthy practices can ensue. Media outlets curry favor so as not to get shut out. Reporters develop Stockholm syndrome.

Yet bad as embedding may be, this new idea cuts out the pesky middleman entirely. What's next, loudspeakers in everyone's home?
posted by madamjujujive at 5:18 AM on December 22, 2003

Will the PNN or P-Span or whatever be "fair and balanced" (code for dishonest) or perhaps objective (where facts and truth matter)?
OK, OK, just kidding.

But seriously, as quonsar mentioned, how much worse can it get than the cheap media whores we now have?
An officially sanctioned Pravda would at least give a patina of legitimacy and no chance of pretense that we live in some garden of honesty, truth and democracy.
posted by nofundy at 5:39 AM on December 22, 2003


Thanks for your great agenda thefireyouleftme! :-)
posted by nofundy at 7:24 AM on December 22, 2003

"Do we really want to get our news from Big Brother?" - mjj, I know your point and think there's a lot to it.

"What's next, loudspeakers in everyone's home?" - So, you're saying you are not interested in the truth, or in news of our boys who are fighting and dying in Iraq? ( /black sarcasm )

"Do we really want to get our news from Big Brother?" - Since I get my news exclusively from the internet and public radio (and very occasionally, newspapers) when I watch network TV (rarely) it's really astounding. I don't think the medium could be a much more effective Orwellian creation, all the more so for the fact that it manages to convince many - or most - Americans that it is somewhat impartial.

If not for non-TV news sources I wouldn't have a clue of the almost countless significant news stories routinely ignored by the networks.

So - yes, I find the idea of a Pentagon news station appalling. And - by the same token - I also find network TV just as appalling and even more insidious for it's claims to neutrality.

Like an old house with a leaky roof and a bad foundation which is also infested with termites and flaking lead paint - I think Network News in America has decayed to the point that it is fundamentally corrupt. I think it would be more productive to - as some are trying, on the internet and elsewhere - to just build new media outlets and bypass that rotting old edifice which I pray will just cave in eventually, one happy day.
posted by troutfishing at 7:41 AM on December 22, 2003

TV news is indeed appalling, trout. Witness the fact that everyone went gaga the other day when a reporter actually asked Bush a "confrontational" question. How bold can you get?! (Although kudos to Helen Thomas who keeps trying.)

Despite the Internet and alternative media, it would appear that the rovian bulldozer is working...the American public seems to swallow the tv pap without gagging, and if polls are to be believed, they even buy it.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:06 AM on December 22, 2003


are you referring to the pentagon or the fire you left me?

anyways, I've been watching the Hilary's New Book...I mean Fox News channel off and on this past week and almost every time I turn it on I see something dishonest and infuriating. for example:

- the day after saddam's capture, an anchordude said, "now that our troops have capture saddam, they can get back to rebuilding the country he helped bomb." I may be wrong, and this is entirely possible since I am a Fox fan and as a consequence dangerously uninformed, but wasn't it the coalition the bombed Iraq?

- an anchorwoman was doing a segment on how the american people felt about the war on Iraq. she said that according to an associated press poll, the american people thought the war in Iraq was the right thing to do, "2 to 1." she went on about how good the war was for another 45 seconds or so before she closed the segment with, "support for the war is approaching 65%." 65% leaves 35%...not exactly 2 to 1 is it? and is the rating at 65% or just approaching it?

- on my way out the door, I happened to catch someone describing either dean or kucinich (can't remember which...probably dean since he's the realest threat) as liking saddam more than the europeans.

- while preparing some supper, I watched another anchordude rattle off all of bush's foreign policy achievements, among which was Libya's decision to disarm. if you've read this thread, you know that really isn't bush's doing.

so why does the pentagon bother? we already have a channel that serves the same purpose.
posted by mcsweetie at 8:58 AM on December 22, 2003

mcsweetie - you made my point better than I could have. Plus, I lack the patience to watch that stuff. Somebody's got to do it, I guess, to document the lies.

mjj - Now, I'm not saying that adding another "Organ of Disinformation" won't make things worse - although I'd be kind of curious to see what kind of tone a Pentagon channel might set (regardless of the propaganda quotient)...
posted by troutfishing at 10:55 AM on December 22, 2003

i wonder who cooked this one up? as we are all finding out to get a job in iraq... its not what you know, its who you know. school vouchers for iraq... hahahha...
posted by specialk420 at 11:06 AM on December 22, 2003

How is this in any way "getting your news from big brother?" Sure, there will be a slant to this news. But it by no means eliminates the other means for gathering news that are still widely available. Its just a different means for disseminating news.

There's a legitimate case to be made that taxpayer dollars shouldn't be used for this sort of thing....but that's a financial/fiscal argument. I see this as by no means Orwellian.

(caveat: I work for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Washington DC) There are indeed news stories that for whatever reason the media has not followed up on. And, there is an argument to be made that much of the work in Iraq that the taxpayer is funding, such as relief and reconstruction activities, are not often covered by major media elements, mostly because they are longer-term, slower, news stories that don't grab headlines and therfore don't sell copy....therefore, doesn't the taxpayer deserve a chance to see the results of his/her "investment" in Iraq, the progress that is being made on a daily basis?
posted by pjgulliver at 11:08 AM on December 22, 2003


AgendaFilter was mick's "contribution" (or should I say dropping) to the thread.

I was thanking our FPP sponsor for bringing the subject up.

Hope that clears everything up.

BTW, on the FAUX news thing, I couldn't agree more.

With Pravda, at least there's no pretense of "fair and balanced."

Personally I prefer my news to be objective. Fuck fair and/or balanced, give it to me the same as my whiskey, straight up.
posted by nofundy at 11:58 AM on December 22, 2003

mcsweetie-- a couple friends of mine and I like to get stoned and watch Fox News. Depending on how coherent we are, we either pick apart each individual statement, or after about five minutes I'm shouting out "This is so obviously bullshit."

I don't watch TV news on any regular basis, so when I do, it pretty well blows my mind. I had no idea the discourse was so bad.
posted by nath at 3:05 PM on December 22, 2003

This may not be as bad as all that. For example, CENTCOM has some good daily news releases you can't find anywhere else.

It's more play-by-play than color, and though I don't expect to see anything critical from them, it's news from a different scale perspective than most of what's out there.

A journalist usually reports what he sees on the street--one perspective, and anecdotes he gets from witnesses. He just can't see the big picture, he doesn't have the resources. It's not his fault, but it gives the reader a slanted view.

For example, CENTCOM reports about lots of dull stuff, Rotary Club meetings, increases in services, small projects that have been completed, bad guys arrested rather than being shot. Both invisible to the typical journalist, and not particularly interesting. Important, though, because what nations thrive on is the boring stuff.
posted by kablam at 7:04 PM on December 22, 2003

kablam - I am kind of curious about the possible flavor of Pentagon generated news, but as to the "overall story"......I think the Pentagon is, as a massive bureaucracy, more likely than not to get that wildly wrong.

"How is this in any way "getting your news from big brother?" Sure, there will be a slant to this news. But it by no means eliminates the other means for gathering news that are still widely available." - pjgulliver, there's a torrent of disinformation or slant - and only a trickle of corrective. The "free market" fails in this case, due to the inability of good information to migrate freely - as would workers need to do (to combat the migration of capital) to fully realize Adam Smith's vision.
posted by troutfishing at 10:15 PM on December 22, 2003

troutfishing: feel free to check out CENTCOM's dailies, "Latest Press Releases". They are mostly colorless tallies at the Division level. In many ways they read like local police reports--granted only from the cop's perspective, but interesting, nonetheless, if you're in to that sort of thing.
While "seeing the blood and smelling the shit" does convey one side of war, real truths can be derived from administrative information. 14/15ths of modern war is logistics.
posted by kablam at 10:49 AM on December 23, 2003

kablam - I actually think CENTCOM's dailies may be, in their own way, preferrable to network news. But what if - as seems to be the emerging trend - the Pentagon develops it's capability to apply modern techniques of PR, perception management, and so on........

"real truths can be derived from administrative information." - Sure, I agree. But what if access to that information is restricted too? And - further - isn't there an aspect of this which similar to the way Sovietologists used to read the tea-leaves? Isn't it merely a question of degree?

At what point does this become Orwellian? When media coverage independent of the emerging Pentagon media system is, in areas of conflict, no longer possible?

In Miami, during the recently trade protests, the police "embedded" reporters and beat, arrested, and otherwise harrased the independent. "non-embedded" media. This is the domestic face of the same coin.

Not that Network News is so great, mind you - but it's pretense to independence at least opens up a space, I think, in which truly independent media can operate without being harassed.
posted by troutfishing at 1:07 PM on December 23, 2003

troutfishing: Here's one that's really out of left field. If you can, of all things try to get a recent copy of Soldier of Fortune magazine. It's loaded with semi-knowledgeable reviews of what is actually happening in Iraq, leaps and bounds over any civilian interpretation of what the military is about there.
Often times they are very critical and some of their writers are downright distrustful of any military news releases. They also independently rate what is happening as far as effectiveness: the "what's the bottom line, here?" reporting style.

Ironically, their "ethical disconnect" from mercenaries, to protect themselves legally, also gives them a wall of separation against the reactivated SOG machine. For what, just a few years ago were illegal mercenaries, are now "contractors" working for who knows who in the government, and corporations. And those people are scary tools.
posted by kablam at 7:59 PM on December 24, 2003

kablam - I believe you. Thanks - I'll check that out.
posted by troutfishing at 10:11 PM on December 24, 2003

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