Comparing the media’s handling of faux letter writing campaigns

In my in-box this morning was this link to the Mudville Gazette’s juxtaposition of the Ellie Light astroturfing letter campaign and something similar that took place back in 2003:

The story (remarkably identical in original numbers to our news of today) of this earth shattering fraud was blown open in USA Today, when a sharp-eyed reporter “found identical letters in 11 newspapers.”

It’s not clear who wrote the letter or organized sending it to soldiers’ hometown papers. If they are part of an organized effort to sway public opinion, it could raise ethical questions for the military, whose officers are trained to refrain from partisan politics.

Ultimately in an e-mail to ABC news a battalion commander in Iraq confessed that the letter-writing initiative was all his idea, but claimed he just wanted to give his soldiers “an opportunity to let their respective hometowns know what they are accomplishing here in Kirkuk.” Fortunately the real plan in which he was participating (willingly or not) – to destroy the very foundation of American democracy – failed as a result of the heroic efforts of the global mainstream media watchdog.

The commander was unapologetic, ABC reported, “saying that the letter perfectly reflects what each of these brave soldiers has and continues to accomplish on the ground.” In fact, in their story ABC even acknowledged that “Kirkuk has seen improvement over the past several months, and is far less violent than other areas of Iraq” – and even the original USA Today story acknowledged that the soldiers they contacted “directly or through their families said they agreed with the letter’s thrust.” But the evil intent behind the campaign was made clear – and it went far beyond the level of a lowly battalion commander: “The Bush administration is engaged in a broad campaign to boost what polls show is sagging public support for the occupation in Iraq” – and obviously they were willing to stoop so low as to use the troops in Iraq to do their dirty work for them.

“Firm endorsements of the letter’s description of the situation in Kirkuk have since been re-registered by most of the soldiers who were supposed to have written letters,” explained the editors of the New York Times, “but that matters little to anyone who ever marched in the military command system.” I shudder at the thought of what we owe those courageous reporters, of how close we came to the end of freedom as we know it, and the complete destruction of all that we hold dear.

And I’m sure that soon enough we’re going to see a similar response to this latest outrage. With over 60 “Ellie Light” letters identified, multiple “Mark Spiveys,” and who knows how many additional discoveries over the past week I’m certain the dam is ready to break – the identical letter from 11 GIs in their hometown papers seems to pale in comparison. For now the only further “mainstream media” coverage is in a blog on the website of the LA Times. But hell hath no fury as a news reporter who discovers he – and his entire profession – has been duped – used even, by the evil machinations of the powers that be. And I’m certain that the explosion is coming.

Any minute now.

Of course Greyhawk is being sarcastic.  He knows the coming explosion will undoubtedly be a dud.  The meme doesn’t fit.  The agenda would be damaged.

The thought that occurs to me is how long have we been subjected to Ellie Light-like campaigns that were never found out?  How often has there been collusion in the media to push forward a particular mindset?  We’re seeing it now regularly and no better example is there than in the coverage given global warming.

Thank God for the emergence of alternative media and folks like The Mudville Gazette who provide necessary checks, balances and juxtapositions to uncover the lies, the collaborations and the hypocrisy being engaged in.   The job to expose these things to the light of truth is an important and necessary one.  Greyhawk has done his job. 

Do yours and pass this on.


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