Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Media Beat: Memo To George, Dick and John

Media Strategy Memo to George, Dick and John


By Norman Solomon

MEMO

To: George, Dick and John

Re: Counteracting the Media Evildoers

Damage control efforts are on track after those rough days in mid-May.

First, let's note a silver lining. John's move to prosecute Arthur Andersen pushed Enron off a lot of front pages, and the recent media commotion about "advance warnings" has helped too. However, complacency would be unwise. For instance, George's mash letters to Ken Lay are posted on Internet sites. Reporters could get tired of the raw meat thrown from the Andersen case. Fortunately, they're more like kitty-cats than lions.

To facilitate the purring, stroke as desired. Do what works. Avoid foot in mouth. Friendly pundits will float trial-balloon excuses. What doesn't get shot down is worth repeating.

Dick, you've been magnificent on the Sunday shows. That grim Edgar Bergen look is a knockout -- just don't tell anyone George is your Charlie McCarthy. (Joke.) The main thing is, stay on message. Change the subject whenever necessary. At this point, do FDR one better: The only thing to fear is not enough fear.

If journalists want warnings, you've got an unlimited supply! Can't lose -- you'll end up seeming either prescient or successful at thwarting the terrorists. But see if you can put a clamp on the bragging. For maximum effect, impress on staffers the importance of resisting the temptation to boast.

It didn't enhance the damage-control counteroffensive when the Associated Press reported on May 21: "There is an element of politics to the administration's warnings, officials acknowledged." Or when, on the same day, the Globe and Mail informed Canadians: "White House officials told reporters that the blunt warnings issued yesterday and Sunday do not reflect a dramatic increase in threatening information but rather a desire to fend off criticism from the Democrats."

When in doubt, scare the stuffing out of the public. Especially if fearful, they want father figures running the show in Washington, protecting and defending. In the future, the administration could benefit from a bit more Reaganizing. In retrospect, George probably missed an opportunity with the Berlin visit; he might have tried something like "Mr. Saddam, tear down this terrorist pall."

As George's dad can tell us, the "what did he know and when did he know it" thing is liable to wear quite thin, with the Washington press corps losing interest. And from the looks of initial staffing, the congressional investigations are likely to be circumspect. The Iran-Contra hearings showed that if you blow enough smoke while reporters search for a smoking gun, pretty soon they'll be going around in circles.

Uncle Sam's military attacks in Afghanistan are providing a healthy flow of proud bang-bang on television. But there's a need to maintain high creative standards in the Pentagon's media ops. Remember -- it takes some flash to be noticeable above the baseline network sizzle, especially during sweeps.

George, don't hesitate to get on your high pony. Talk about executive privilege, the sanctity of the presidency, your abiding faith in the goodness and courage of the American people. The flag pin on the suit lapel still looks great, by the way. But maybe it was a flub to wear the polo shirt with the alligator again. We're awaiting focus-group results on an alternative; if the meter pins, we'll cut out the gator and have a small Old Glory stitched in.

Top national security officials ought to step up the pace of sit-down TV interviews, so schedule more softball sessions on the networks. And if Larry King can tear himself away from Chandra's remains anytime soon, maybe he'd like to have Dick and the wife on again -- if so, the V.P.'s flacks should brainstorm themes, perhaps along the lines of "the family that fights terrorism together draws strength from God and country together." Lynne could hawk her new patriotic book in the process.

The FBI deserves back-channel encouragement for going public with uncorroborated warnings about New York landmarks the other day. Mentioning the Statue of Liberty was a nice touch. It left a feeling of Lady-Liberty-vs.-terrorist-perfidy in the air, with a fine media mist of fear. And we can never have too much of that.


************

Norman Solomon's latest book is "The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media."

His Media Beat Column is published at:

http://www.fair.org/media-beat/index.html#recent

Background links about Bush-Lay letters:

Photocopies --

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/doc_o_day/bushlay1.shtml

Summary of correspondence --

http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=12462

*** Note to readers of "Media Beat": If you'd like to see Norman Solomon's syndicated column appear in a local daily newspaper, you can help-- by contacting the opinion-page editors of papers in your area and urging that they give the column a try. Editors can make arrangements by phoning Creators Syndicate in Los Angeles or by sending an email note to mediabeat@igc.org.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

27-29 Sept: Social Enterprise World Forum Live Blog

1600+ delegates from more than 45 countries have came together to share wisdom, build networks and discuss how to create a more sustainable future using social enterprise as a vehicle. Attending the Forum were social enterprise practitioners, social entrepreneurs, policy makers, community leaders, investors, activists, academics and more from across the globe... More>>

HiveMind Report: A Universal Basic Income For Aotearoa NZ

Results from this HiveMind suggests that an overwhelming majority of Kiwis believe that due to changing circumstances and inefficiencies in the current system, we need a better system to take care of welfare of struggling members in our society. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Hivemind: Medical Cannabis - Co-Creating A Policy For Aotearoa

Welcome to the fourth and final HiveMind for Scoop’s Opening the Election campaign for 2017. This HiveMind explores the question: what would a fair, humane and safe Medical Cannabis policy look like for Aotearoa, NZ in 2018? More>>

ALSO:

Lyndon Hood: Notes On National’s Election Campaign, In Poem Form

Nationyl’s bitumen-ing / As they du du / Seed groweth / River floweth / Then ‘dozer drives thru / Highway ensu. More>>