Saturday, March 25, 2006

Allison Barber and the Big Brother Broadcast

In response to this week's articles on the administration's "no good news in the media campaign" and viral propaganda, Oui sent me this link to the White House Website.

Lo and behold! From July of 2005, assistant deputy Secretary of Defense Allison Barber hosting "Ask the White House." If you haven't been tracking the administration's media bashing strategy, this is a good place to start. The basic message at the time was that open criticism of Bush, Cheney, Rummy and the gang was hurting the morale of the troops. I'll run portions of it here. Watch how "cleverly" they sneak into the attack mode.
Meleah, from Joplin Missouri writes: Ms. Barber, Would you please explain exactly what the "America Supports You" program is? Thank you for taking the time to answer my question Meleah

Allison Barber
Thank you for your question, Meleah. America Supports You came about to fill a simple need: to communicate America's support for the military to our men and women in uniform. Several months ago we began to hear disturbing questions from our brave troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. They didn't know if Americans still stood behind them…

William, from Lansing, MI writes: What is the best way an ordinary citizen can show his support for out troops? Also, how is the morale of our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Allison Barber
Great question, William! There are so many ways to show your support. First, we'd love for you to log on and visit and send a message of support directly to our troops…

John, from Charlotte, NC writes: I just watched "our" President give an emotional speech at Fort Bragg and I'm so proud to say I'm an American. You could tell at the end of his speech, he was so proud of the men and women who support and defend our country. He mentioned a website to help support our troops. What was the site and is it up and running yet?

Allison Barber
Thank you John for that great question and for the pride your comment clearly shows you have in our wonderful country. During his speech to the world on Tuesday, President Bush encouraged all Americans to take a moment this 4th of July to thank the troops for our freedom by visiting

You caught the little subliminal thingy about "our" President, right? The one we real Americans support all the way?

This next question is from a citizen who had his doubts about Mister Bush at first, but has finally seen the light…
Doug, from Seaford, DE writes: I didn't originally vote for President Bush but I now realize that he has succeeded in protecting our country from additional terrorist attacks. Our men and women in uniform deserve our praise and thanks for their efforts and sacrifice to protect our freedom -- as well as providing hope and a brighter future for the Iraqi people.

Allison Barber
Doug, you are absolutely right. As I am sure you know, this week marks the one-year anniversary of Iraqi sovereignty. One year ago this week, 25 million Iraqis were liberated from one of the 20th Centuries most brutal regimes. The freedom they enjoy today, and the security we have at home, has been bought with the courage and sacrifice of our military men and women…

And here comes the napalm…
Joshua, from Miami, FL writes: _Secretary Barber, How has all of the negative media about Iraq and Guantanamo effected (sic) the morale of our troops? Does the viceral nature of those opposed to the war have a negative effect on our troops?

Allison Barber
Great question Joshua. You are absolutely right to ask about the morale of our troops around the world. Having traveled to Iraq personally, and being the spouse of an army reservist that just returned home from a yearlong deployment to Iraq, I can tell you wholeheartedly that our troops get their strength and their determination from the knowledge that they have the full support and backing of the folks backs home. The negative images on TV and unfortunate comments by some trying to make a political point can all effect (sic) the morale of our troops. But as we here back home know first hand, the vast majority of Americans stand steadfast with our troops. Making sure they know they have that support is the #1 goal of America Supports You…

In any other place, at any other time, with any other organization than the Bush administration, this transparently crafted "Ask the White House" session would have come off like a conscious self-parody. But the Bushlanders and their supporters take this kind of stuff dead seriously.

Previous "Ask the White House" sessions conducted by Harriet Miers indicated that the "hosts" don't write the answers themselves. That Barber's answers in this may well have been ghosted or plagiarized is somewhat disturbing. But it's even more disturbing to consider that they may well have been answers to real questions asked by real people. Well, real Stepford people.

Heck, that whole Fourth of July America Supports You weekend production was disturbing. The administration, deflecting blame for its woebegone Iraq fiasco by demonizing the press and hiding behind the troops. The big propaganda production staged in Washington D.C. disguised as a pep rally.

Taxpayers funded the rally, but apparently didn't have to shoulder the whole cost. America Supports You has a slew of Corporate Team Members that includes outfits like Anheuser Bush, McDonalds, and MARVEL Enterprises.

It's a sad commentary on American culture when big companies can use human suffering and our troops to sell beer, hamburgers, and comic books and nobody bats an eye about it.


Along with her involvement with America Supports You, Allison Barber is in charge of the Defense Department's internal communications, which include American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS), the Pentagon Channel, Stars and Stripes, and other DoD controlled media. In summer of 2004, Barber admitted that AFRTS selects programs based on content rather than popularity (Rush Limbaugh is HUGE with AFRTS). In October of 2005, Barber was caught on tape coaching soldiers prior to a live question and answer teleconference with Mister Bush. Shortly afterward, she cancelled the planned debut of liberal talk show host Ed Shultz's radio program from the Armed Forces Radio schedule.

If you've ever been stationed overseas with the military, you know that these outlets are often the only English language media available. That goes a long way in explaining why a Zogby poll conducted in February of this year indicated that 85 percent of U.S. troops in Iraq think their mission is to "retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9/11 attacks."

Which just goes to show how you can shape young minds when you can hold them captive to the Big Brother Broadcast.


  1. Nice shoelace tying. One of the problems with all Bush public propaganda efforts is the obvious risibility for level headed observers. I'm not sure whether it's an effort to demonstrate wide-spread approval for Bu$hCo efforts, or 'jist a thang' required to feed Mr Bush's obvious ego demands.

    I can remember a quote from last summer (or the summer before), when Mr Bush was to appear at a public gathering, possible in Europe (?) and he was scheduled to walk from a paved walkway to a podium placed in a grassy area to deliver a speech. Many media reports mentioned the quote from the advance team about placement of the red carpet: "his feet must not touch the ground."

    THIS is an ego problem.

  2. The problem, as I see it, is how man "level headed observers" are left?

  3. Funny. When I first read that "our" president line, I thought the writer was being sarcastic . . . until I finished his letter. Then, I just scratched my head.

  4. Doug,

    "Usn's" cain't always get what themen's is up to.

    I still can't quite believe they stage these things and think anyone takes them seriously.

    Or that some people take them seriously, which they apparently do.

  5. Meribeth8:04 AM

    Went to the links and sounds like a Ronco commercial. Not one, not two, but three!! ways to blame the media!!

    Yet our military finds it necessary to carefully pick what "media"our soldiers listen to. Amazing the way they are cut off so they can continue to fight for our Little Jesus. No wonder these guys come home totally f-ed up.

  6. Meribeth,

    Exploid the controlled press, demonize the open press.

    Yep, it's pretty bad.

  7. I remember how much the media fought our invasion of Iraq....oh wait. They were the biggest cheerleaders! Did everyone forget the outcry about showing flag-covered coffins? Everyone trumpeting Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz talking points like they were going out of style?

    Wait, this is America. Of course they forgot. Please please tell me th

    By the way, Jeff--just finished re-reading 1984!

  8. Ariadne,

    I'm still going through it at a leisurely pace. I included a passage in today's quote collection.

  9. I don't understand how the Democrats can't capitalize on the narrow focus of the right's "support our troops" rhetoric. After Vietnam, everyone realized that you have to support the troops and blame the leadership that sends the troops into an unjust conflict. Even the Dems realized that (hell, John Kerry spearheaded the anti-Vietnam political effort and he was IN Vietnam!) So now, while every Democrat on the Hill is saying that they support the bang-up job out boys (and girls) are doing over there, that their arguement lies with the Pentagon and the Administration, why can't they deflect the criticisms of the right wingnuts who accuse them of hating our troops? Why haven't they been able to latch on to an arguement that deflects the attacks of Sean Hannity, of Rush Limbaugh, of Steven Colbert?

    I just don't get it....

  10. Sadiq,

    I'd like to think the Dems have set a trap they don't plan to spring until it's too late for the GOPers to wiggle out of it. Something I heard the other day from--Shumer, was it?--makes me think that might be the case.

    That would be how I suggest they play their cards. Let the GOP fall apart on its own, then attack when they're too weak and too short on time to recover.

    We can hope, huh?

    By the way, I don't remember the last time I mentioned it, but I'm not now and never have been a Democrat. The first Dem I ever voted for was John Kerry.

    So nobody can blame my loathing of the Bush mob on my life-long career as a whale-kissing tree-hugger. ;-)