Pentagon mounts public affairs ops to counter bad news, exploit "new media"

November 2nd, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Pentagon mounts public affairs ops to counter bad news, exploit "new media"

by Jim MannionMon Oct 30, 3:28 PM ET

The Pentagon is expanding its public affairs operations to counter "inaccurate" news stories and editorials and exploit "new media" to get its message out, its chief spokesman said, denying the effort was linked to the US elections.
The initiative comes amid plummeting domestic support for the war in Iraq and just before crucial mid-term congressional elections in which opposition Democrats are contesting Republican control of the Congress.
Eric Ruff, the Pentagon press secretary, insisted that the new public affairs program was not prompted by either the elections or polls showing that only about 37 percent believe the war is going well.
"What were looking at doing is, 'How can we get better, how can we get faster, how can we transform public affairs?'," he told reporters.
"And we're looking at being quicker to respond to breaking news. Being quicker to respond, frankly, to inaccurate statements," he said.
"And we're looking at this whole issue of new media -- podcasting, and IM-ing and all those kinds of things, where people are basically running circles inside us," he said.
Ruff disclosed the expanded operations after questions were raised about a wall being built in the Pentagon press operations center that will separate the new unit from Pentagon public affairs officials who deal with the media.
He denied that the intent of the new operation was to go around the mainstream news media.
Ruff said he did not know how much the operation is costing or how many people were being hired.
The unit includes a rapid response team, a "new media" group, and a team that specializes in getting Pentagon officials booked on radio and television shows.
"Well, just for example, letters to the editors: the operational tempo for letters to the editor has gone up considerably," Ruff said.
Dorrance Smith, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, has written a torrent of letters to editors in recent weeks seeking corrections or rebutting articles and editorials.
The Pentagon's daily compilation of defense-related news articles on Monday ran five such letters, including one to the Washington Post that has not been published.
Ruff said the new operation also was set up by Smith, a former ABC television producer and media adviser in Baghdad to L. Paul Bremer, who led the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in the year after the US invasion.
But US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a strident critic of media coverage of Iraq, also has pushed for a sweeping overhaul in the way the military communicates with the public.
In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in February, he called for 24-hour press operations centers and an approach that would give Internet operations and other channels of communications equal status to "20th century press relations."
"It will result in much less reliance on the traditional print press, just as publics of the US and the world are relying less on newspapers as their principal source of information," he said.

Efforts to expand the military's use of "information operations" overseas aroused controversy following disclosures last year that a private contractor was used to secretly plant paid stories in the Iraqi media.
"Information operations" is a military term used to describe propaganda aimed at influencing foreign publics. Traditional Pentagon public affairs, on the other hand, is bound by laws that prohibit propagandizing of Americans.
Asked whether the new Pentagon operations fell under the category of "information operations," Ruff said, "I've not looked at it that way at all." "I've looked at it as getting better at what we do, from the standpoint of taking advantage of technology, of setting the record straight from a public affairs position," he said.
November 2nd, 2006  
Its about god damn time they got off their collective ass and did something.
November 2nd, 2006  
And it is sad that American MSM don't do the job it is tasked for and instead Pentagon must do THEIRS...

MSM are enemies sympathizers