The $20 Million Dollar TV Guide

America must be sleeping better tonight knowing that their government is ever vigilant of threats from unflattering news reports. An administration obsessed with perceptions is soliciting bids for a contract to monitor media reports about the war in Iraq. This $20 million dollar initiative will:

“provide continuous monitoring and near-real-time reporting of Iraqi, pan-Arabic, international and U.S. media…including, but not limited to tone (positive, neutral, negative) and scope of media coverage.”

That the Pentagon considers this a project worthy of millions of taxpayer dollars should not surprise anyone. This is the same Pentagon that paid Iraqi newspapers to publish positive stories written by an American PR firm. So the Pentagon, not content with planting propaganda in the world’s press, now wants to see how good they’ve been at it. They justify the expense by claiming that:

“…the Bush administration was countering extremism with hope and democracy.”

I wish someone to could explain how monitoring the media for content analysis furthers those goals. While countering extremism is a laudable objective, hope and democracy is not advanced with lies and manipulation. If the Pentagon wants to know what the press is saying about them and the war, all they have to do is pick up a newspaper, turn on the TV, or tune in Voice of America. Oh wait – they closed the Baghdad bureau last year. I guess they weren’t getting enough happy stories.