....LMB: "Pay No Attention to the Oppression Behind the Curtain"....

January 16, 2003

I've written about her a number of times, Charlotte Beers. She's a former PR exec who got hired by the State Department to propagandize the Islamic world into thinking that America is keen. I find her apallling; I hate the PR industry, and I am offended by the apparent State Dept. belief that you can easily overcome decades of harmful U.S. intervention in the Middle East with just the right set of feel-good television commercials.

Overthrowing the Iranian government, supporting Saddam Hussein, supporting Israel, supporting the Saudi government, supporting Turkey, attacking Iraq, economically sanctioning Iraq, bombing Afghanistan, etc. the U.S. has taken some pretty... let's say "questionably moral" stances on Middle East issues, and those stances have frequently resulted in dire suffering by the region's residents. It's almost common sense to assume that the United States hates Arabs and Islam (an incorrect assumption, we would have treated any religion or ethnicity sitting on top of that much petroleum in a similar fashion). Charlotte Beers' job is to convince these people to believe what the TV tells them, not what the see with their own eyes.

When someone tries to cover-up something bad that they have done, we call it "whitewashing." When corporations start a PR campaign to pretend that they are eco-friendly, it is called "greenwashing." I've even heard of corporate PR campaigns to pretend that they don't exploit their employees called "bluewashing" (as in "blue collar"). So I think we need a name for what Charlotte is trying to do.

I'm gonna call it "lovewashing".

We want those Arabs and Muslims to know that America wuvs them!! We wuv them soooooo much!!!

Actually, Beers seems to have a reputation among some of her PR peers as a hack, that she was a powerful figure in their industry because she had prominant business connections, not because she was particularly skilled at manipulating public opinion. So she's really got her work cut out for her.

On to the good news.

Beers spent $15 million on a PR campaign aimed at the Islamic world called "Shared Values," which was supposed to curry sympathy for America by pointing out the good lives of Muslim Americans.

The State Department has halted these ads, and wants to review their effectiveness before continuing to shell out money.

And how effective are they? Let's ask Council on Foreign Relations member Youssef Ibrahim:

"It was like this was the 1930s and the government was running commercials showing happy blacks in America."


You can see some of the campaign for yourself on the State Department's "Muslim Life in America" site. If that doesn't make foreign Muslims forget their decades of repression, nothing will. Except maybe some big heavy bombs. Of Love.

Posted by Jake at 11:28 PM

"Lovewashing." I love it.

That the ads were pulled is the least surprising news all week. Youssef Ibrahim totally nailed it ... and I think you predicted it when the ad campaignn was first announced.

Side note: I saw Beers on CNN's Newsnight last night. Man, she's had so much lifting and tucking done she looked a little like an android.

Posted by: dack at January 17, 2003 06:32 AM


Posted by: PJ Freyssinette at February 9, 2003 02:07 AM
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

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Media News

December 01, 2004

Media Mambo

The Great Indecency Hoax- last week, we wrote about how the "massive outcry" to the FCC about a racy Fox TV segment amounted to letters from 20 people. This week, we look at the newest media scandal, the infamous "naked back" commercial. On Monday Night Football, last week, ABC aired an ad for it's popular "Desperate Housewives" TV show, in which one of the actresses from the show attempted to seduce a football player by removing the towel she was wearing to bare her body to him. All the audience saw, however, was her back. No tits, no ass, no crotch, just her back.

No one complained.

The next Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his shocked viewers how the woman had appeard in the commercial "buck naked".

Then, the FCC received 50,000 complaints. How many of them actually saw this commercial is anyone's guess.

The article also shows the amazing statistics that although the Right is pretending that the "22% of Americans voted based on 'moral values'" statistic shows the return of the Moral Majority, this is actually a huge drop from the 35% who said that in the 2000 election or the 40% who said that in 1996 (when alleged pervert Bill Clinton was re-elected). This fact is so important I'm going to mention it over in the main news section too.

Brian Williams may surprise America- Tom Brokaw's replacement anchor, Brian Williams, dismissed the impact of blogs by saying that bloggers are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Which is really funny, coming out of the mouth of a dude who's idea of journalism is to read words out loud off a teleprompter. Seriously, if parrots were literate, Brian Williams would be reporting live from the line outside the soup kitchen.

In related news, Tom Brokaw has quit NBC Nightly News, and it appears that unlike his predecessor, the new guy can speak without slurring words like a drunk.

PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror- in February of 2002, Donald Rumsfeld announced the creation of the Office of Strategic Influence, a new department that would fight the war on terror through misinformation, especially by lying to journalists. Journalists were so up in arms about this that the Pentagon agreed to scrap the program.

Don't you think that an agency designed to lie to the public might lie about being shut down, too?

This article gives some examples about the US military lying to the press for propaganda and disinformation purposes.

Tavis Smiley leaving NPR in December- African-American talk show host Tavis Smiley is opting to not renew his daily talk show on National Public Radio. He criticized his former employers for failing to: "meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply donít know it exists or what it offers ... In the most multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial America ever, I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future." He's 100% correct. NPR is white. Polar bear eating a marshmallow at the mayonaise factory white. And the reason it's so white is that it is trying to maintain an affluent listener base (premoniantly older white folks) who will donate money to their stations. This is a great paradox of American public broadcasting, that they have a mandate to express neglected viewpoints and serve marginalized communities, but those folks can't donate money in the amounts that the stations would like to see.

U.S. Muslim Cable TV Channel Aims to Build Bridges- it sounds more positive than it is "Bridges TV" seems to simultaneously be a cable channel pursuing an affluent American Muslim demographic, and a way of building understanding and tolerance among American non-Muslims who might happen to watch the channel's programming. I was hoping it would be aimed more at Muslim's worldwide, but it ain't. Still, I'd be interested in seeing how their news programs cover the issues.

Every Damned Weblog Post Ever- it's funny cuz it's true.

Wikipedia Creators Move Into News- Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created collectively by thousands of contributors. It's one of those non-profit, decentralized, collective, public projects that show how good the internet can be. Now, the Wikipedia founders are working on a similar project to create a collaborative news portal, with original content. Honestly, it's quite similar to IndyMedia sites (which reminds me, happy 5th birthday, IndyMedia!). I'll admit, I'm a bit skeptical about the Wikinews project, though. IndyMedia sites work because they're local, focused on certain lefty issues, and they're run by activists invested in their beliefs. I'm not sure what would drive Wikinews or how it would hang together.

CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays- the United Church of Christ created a TV ad which touts the church's inclusion, even implying that they accept homosexuals into their congregation. Both CBS and NBC are refusing to air the ad. This is not too surprising, as many Americans are uncomfortable about homosexuality, and because TV networks are utter cowards. But CBS' explanation for the ban was odd:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

Whoa, what? First of all, the ad does not mention marriage at all. Second, since when do positions opposite of the Executive Branch constitute "unacceptable"? This doesn't sound like "we're not airing this because it's controversial", this sounds like "we're afraid of what the President might say."

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