....LMB: "More on Beers"....

January 17, 2003

I have a bit more information to add to last night's post about the pro-U.S. campaign aimed at Muslims. I wrote my entry based upon a CBSNews.com article which was based upon a Wall Street Journal article. I've found the original source. It has a few more interesting quotes and facts.

- Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan all refused to play the TV ads
- the cost of producing and airing the ads was $7.5 million of the project's $15 million budget
- the full Youssef Ibrahim quote: "The ads were extremely poor. It was like this was the 1930s and the government was running commercials showing happy blacks in America. It is the policy itself we have to explain. You have to grab the bull by the horn, and the bull is 'Hey, here's our policy and there are good reasons for it,' instead of saying, 'Gee, there are a lot of happy Muslim people here.'"
- quote from an adman at Ogilvy & Mather, "The real question on the 'Shared Values' campaign is whether it does more good than harm. My premise was that any effort to address ordinary people that have been ignored too long is worthy. But Islamic opinion is influenced more by what the U.S. does than anything it can say."
- says the article, "Those involved with the ads respond that the idea behind them was simply to show there isn't an anti-Muslim movement by the American public." That's a goal? So the point of view of the average Muslims changes from "Americans hate Muslims" to "Americans hate foreign Muslims."
- one of the "stars" of the ad, Ohio Muslim Abdul-Raouf Hammuda, spoke in Lebanon as part of this campaign. "The reaction varied from those who were supportive to the idea of building this campaign to others who were suspicious and skeptical that life for Muslims in America was really all that good," he said.

And here's another, more direct piece from the Christian Science Monitor, focusing specifically on what Muslims think about the U.S.:

- Indonesian Muslim Ahmad Imron says "We know that there's religious freedom in America, and we like that. What we're angry about is the arrogant behavior of the US in the rest of the world."
- "On the street, the reaction is the same, from street peddlers to US-trained academics: The US media campaign isn't relevant to Muslims' concerns. What saps their support for America is not impressions of how Muslims are treated inside the US, but their opinions about America's international relations - particularly with Israel and Iraq. Moreover, analysts say, if the US proceeds with plans to invade Iraq, its standing among Muslims will only fall."
- Mohammed Adam Hesa: "Sometimes we feel that America is a bully. Like with Iraq. They don't show any evidence. They just want to go to war." And the knock-out blow, "If the US wants a better image, why doesn't it change its policies?"
- the article reveals a fact I have not seen anywhere else, that there is a website devoted to this campaign, OpenDialogue.com
- most of the comments posted on that site's "Comments from around the world" section are fairly mild, this one from "Aida in Indonesia" is blistering: "Do you really want to build a better understanding between Americans and Muslim? Or do you just want to win this campaign? We are not stupid or blind or deaf. We read your intention not by what you say but what you do. We are not easy to believe you anymore after so many disinformations by your politicians, mass media and others. This won't work if you see us as an object. Be fair on the Palestinian issue, stop killing Iraqis and bombing their country, repair the destruction of what you did in Afghanistan, don't play tricks with the IMF. Do you want us to suffer more? Do you hope us to be tender with this situation?"

So what do you think would've had more effect on Muslim opinion: the Beers ad campaign, or using that $15 million as humanitarian aid to feed starving Muslims in any foreign country?

Posted by Jake at 08:52 AM
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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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