Paging George Orwell!
Wired blog Danger Room is reporting that Donald Rumsfeld is proposing creating an agency within the government for the purpose of promulgating propaganda. Sharon Weinberger, the author of the article, quotes Rummy as follows:
“We need someone in the United States government, some entity, not like the old USIA . . . I think this agency, a new agency has to be something that would take advantage of the wonderful opportunities that exist today. There are multiple channels for information . . . The Internet is there, pods are there, talk radio is there, e-mails are there. There are all kinds of opportunities. We do not with any systematic organized way attempt to engage the battle of ideas and talk about the idea of beheading, and what’s it’s about and what it means. And talk about the fact that people are killing more Muslims than they are non-Muslims, these extremists. They’re doing it with suicide bombs and the like. We need to engage and not simply be passive and allow that battle of competition of ideas.”
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In Rumsfeld’s view, the free press can co-exist with government sponsored/produced/paid news. “It doesn’t mean we have to infringe on the role of the free press, they can go do what they do, and that’s fine,” says Rumsfeld. “Well, it’s not fine, but it’s what it is, let’s put it that way.”
Frankly, I am astounded that anyone who has ever been associated with the Orwellian nightmare that is our current administration would have the nerve to suggest a plan so blatantly ripped from the pages of Nineteen Eighty-Four. It screams to be called Minitrue, and should probably be referred to as such should this plan ever go anywhere.
Now I know, some of you are saying, “Well, shouldn’t the government be able to get its message out there to the masses?” And of course, the government has numerous ways of doing so: White House press briefings, photo ops, appearances by representatives of the administration on the Sunday morning talk shows, et cetera. That is kind of the point: if the government wants to get its side of the story out there, it has numerous legitimate means of doing so. Planting stories in the media — including alternative media like blogs and podcasts — without making clear that the story was written by some government agency instead of an at least nominally neutral reporter is just disturbing.
Hey, I know! The administration could start its own newspaper and blog, in order to get its unfiltered story out to the people. They could call it The Truth. Better yet, they could use that phrase’s Russian equivalent:
– jane doe