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The National Security Archive at George Washington University

CONSORTIUM NEWS - Edited by Robert Parry


March 27, 2003

White House's 'Global PR Network' Used to 'Dominate' War Coverage

'White House prepares to feed 24-hour news cycle' (3/24/03 - PR Week)
The eruption of war in Iraq last week set in motion a massive global PR network, cultivated by the Bush administration during the months-long buildup of forces.

The network is intended not only to disseminate, but also to dominate news of the conflict around the world.

Before the attacks began, Suzy DeFrancis, deputy assistant to President Bush for communications, outlined the daily media relations hand-off that was about to begin.

"When Americans wake up in the morning, they will first hear from the (Persian Gulf) region, maybe from General Tommy Franks," she said. "Then later in the day, they'll hear from the Pentagon, then the State Department, then later on the White House will brief."

Before anyone goes on air, however, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer will set the day's message with an early-morning conference call to British counterpart Alastair Campbell, White House communications director Dan Bartlett, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, Pentagon spokesperson Torie Clarke, and White House Office of Global Communication (OGC) director Tucker Eskew -- a routine that mirrors procedure during the conflict in Afghanistan.

The OGC, an office born out of post-September-11 efforts to combat anti-American news stories emerging from Arab countries, will be key in keeping all US spokespeople on message. Each night, US embassies around the world, along with all federal departments in DC, will receive a "Global Messenger" e-mail containing talking points and ready-to-use quotes.

While an obvious benefit to having communicators spread across time zones is the ability to dominate the 24-hour news cycle, DeFrancis said the White House would enforce clear jurisdictions between departments.

For example, "this being a military conflict, operational questions will be handled from the Pentagon," she said.

In a dramatic shift from past conflicts, administration officials have made it clear they'll rely on independent journalists, "embedded" by the Pentagon with military units, to act as one of their most reliable PR vehicles.

"That's the first time it's ever been done," DeFrancis offered.

[Read the source...]

Related Links:

  • 'Lost History: CIA's Perception Management' (1996 - Consortium News) - Robert Parry's great article on illegal Reagan-era "perception management" via the Office of Public Diplomacy.

  • 'Public Dipomacy and Covert Propaganda: The Otto Reich File' (3/02/01 - National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book) -
    backgrounder and raw gov't documents related to the Office of Public Diplomacy and it's chief, Otto Reich -- whom GW Bush sneakily appointed as dep. secretary of state for Latin America, and who has since been moved into the White House when his recent reappointment was to face certain major challenge in Congress. Why? Because of the OPD, silly!


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