On October 21, 2006, President Bush delivered another in the series of radio addresses that seem now to be presidential obligations. [Can anyone explain why these anachronisms persist in an era when media access is so abundant?] In this address the president makes some interesting remarks that unintentionally correlate his media policy with that of the terrorists.
“Another reason for the recent increase in attacks is that the terrorists are trying to influence public opinion here in the United States.”
The Bush Administration is also trying to influence public opinion here. Through the use of uncredited, government-produced video news releases and payments to friendly pundits, the American government has directed a flood of propaganda at the American people.
“They have a sophisticated propaganda strategy.”
They might have learned it from the Pentagon that has an ongoing policy of paying Iraqi newspapers to publish positive stories written by American PR firms.
“They know they cannot defeat us in the battle, so they conduct high-profile attacks, hoping that the images of violence will demoralize our country and force us to retreat.”
Sounds a lot like Shock and Awe.
“They carry video cameras and film their atrocities, and broadcast them on the Internet.”
This is not so different from the practice of embedding reporters in military units to produce tainted coverage that is then broadcast to the rest of the world. But we could also include the scandalous events at Abu Ghraib as examples of atrocities on film.
“…their goal is to, ‘carry out a media war that is parallel to the military war.'”
That is precisely the goal of the U.S. according to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who said that, “the military needs to focus more on adapting to the changes in global media.”
“The terrorists are trying to divide America and break our will.”
The president is also trying to divide America with characterizations of his critics as soft on terror cut-and-runners who want America to lose. His “with us or with the terrorists” rhetoric is designed explicitly to rip apart the fabric of the American people who, in their hearts, all want the same thing – Peace and security.
If there is one thing that we can claim credit for, it’s that we have been a stalwart role model for the forces we are fighting in Iraq and elsewhere. It is easy to observe that the terrorist’s media strategies, about which the president is complaining, were learned from studying the media strategies employed by Bush and his deputies. We are, if nothing else, good teachers.