Military PR Sleight of Hand

The news cycle is a battlefield of screams and murmurs. High-stakes PR wars are being fought before our very eyes and we are none the wiser. Careful calibration of lies is big business. The uninitiated can get a taste here:

Since August 2010, an oft-repeated chant echoing from the White House, and more recently from the Australian government, is that Wikileaks has already caused the deaths of troops and civilians alike simply by publishing the classified material they had received.

The most notorious example of this was Adm. Mike Mullen's over-quoted squawking - "Wikileaks Have Killed People! Within Days of Their Release of Our Classified Data, Untold Numbers of American Enemy Combatants Have Trawled Through Thousands of Pages of Leaks to Find Informants and Kill Them! Not to Mention the Safety of Our Troops!" This blogger is taking liberties with paraphrasing but I am doing so merely to highlight a watershed moment in unintentional black comedy.
That said, you've probably already read this:

The Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith's reaction to the Iraq War Logs, somewhat less theatrical, was still reported uncritically by the Australian on Oct 27th:

These are mere shavings off a gargantuan iceberg of similar reportage. Since late August, the average news consumer could be forgiven for believing a website is as lethal as a drone attack or dirty-uranium bomb.

Then there was a lull in the storm. In between leaks, and with the touch paper of indignation already lit by the comments of Adm. Mullen, not many news outlets found this one interesting on October 15:
Robert Gates - Limited Damage Done:

"No U.S. intelligence sources or practices were compromised by the posting of secret Afghan war logs by the WikiLeaks website, the Pentagon has concluded, but the military thinks the leaks could still cause significant damage to U.S. security interests..." Security interests aren't quite the confirmed deaths of informers and troops that the White House had screamed about just a few weeks before, are they?

Oldest PR trick in the book: The central tenet of news management is to trumpet the disinformation as loudly as your PR budget allows, and quietly issue a correction or clarification much later while the lies are still in spin cycle.

Australia, slightly less vociferous in its denigration of the Wikileaks war releases, still treads the same path:

You can go back to your beer and TV now.

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