Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Hotel Warriors: Covering the Gulf War

Monday, March 20, 2006

Hotel Warriors: Covering the Gulf War

Hotel Warriors: Covering the Gulf War by John Fialka offers an interesting perspective on the gulf war from the perspective of a journalist who was actually there. His experiences are especially instructive in exposing how the military sought to handle information about the war.

Fialki frequently refers to the atmosphere within which the journalists were kept as “the cacoon”. The cocoon was shaped by information barriers and restrictions imposed by the military. Fialki attributes the military’s zeal to control the press primarily to the commonly held military belief that it was false perceptions, created by the press, that were responsible for losing the Vietnam War.

'President Bush promised the public (and the Pentagon) that the effort against Iraq would not be ambiguous, contradictory, “another Vietnam” … “What this meant , in effect, was that General Schwarzkopf decided how much command support to give to public affairs officers and upwards of 1,600 media representatives in Saudi Arabia”'

As it turns out, this support was very poor indeed. Fialki points out how the public affairs office was not only understaffed, but often manned by incompotenent officers sent there as punishment. As journalists only source of information durig the war, this system led to a paucity of information and left journalists starved for any bit of 'news' given to them by the military.

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