Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: New situation, New dilemma

Saturday, April 29, 2006

New situation, New dilemma

No war before is as information-intense as the ones after the Sept. 11th, although they still carry certain slant. News network almost extended to every corner of our lives. With the development of new technology and internet, people can always keep pace with the war almost simultaneously. And what make these wars distinct is that they are conducted after being severely attacked by anonymous forces. Ordinary American people are living under panic and anxiety, and they are expecting a strong government to provide them with safety. Holding on to this notion, war declared on terrorism becomes indispensably the top agenda of public concern. No doubt, this is also the principle the press should stick to. “American reporters were following the prevailing opinions. They are not independent. They don't like to go against the prevailing current of opinion.” (Feet to the Fire, P111)
From direct contact with the media perspective, not mentioning the strict unification of voice from within the white house, Bush always walks in this own way and his attitude towards them depends on his own mood. Bush has media walking a fine line by selecting the “appropriate” reporter he pleases who can follow his instructions and pass on his ideas to the public; holding behind-the-door press conference to let them know what can and should be told to the audience and restricting information access to the media by state-of-the-art technology, such as using large amount of public money to secure exclusive rights to all new high-quality commercial spy satellite images of Afghanistan, etc. however, when he doesn’t feel like talking with so called “lapdog” media, he would ruthlessly disregard them or even cut off communications, which always intensifies the potent mixture of frustration and ennui among White House reporters who came here with great expectation from the government and themselves. What they can do is only “sit in real-time limbo, lost in the dust of the Internet and cable”. (Fortress Bush, Ken Auletta)


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good, substantial comment.

The explosion of the new media and news media has posed a real problem for the powerful. The increased message discipline and constant efforts to shut down access to back-channels and unauthorized leaks is partly a reaction to this increasingly competitive and chaotic news market.

The Bush administration emphasis on secrecy and message control during wartime is not new but the extent of this administrations futile efforts to control the media reflect this new situation.

In the short term the administration has been very successful, but over the long haul there is just too much media and too much information to manage.

The president has enormous power to favor one network or reporter over another and he can also restrict and classify the facts of war for a while, but someone is going to spill the beans eventually. There are a lot of people inside the Pentagon and in Washington who are angry about the war and the manner in which the Bush administration has acted. The media will exploit these divisions and make it increasingly difficult for the administration to keep a lid on the information they are trying to hide from the public.

Unfortunately, they may be able to keep the lid until it is too late for many American soldiers and the people of Iraq. It is amazing what comes out when a war is over, the dissent of the retired generals is just a taste of what will come out when the threat to operational security and the war effort is over.

5/03/2006 12:32 PM  

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