Thursday, January 15, 2004

Approaching 500...

The media loves big, round numbers. The number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq is approaching the big five zero zero. What has Rove got up his sleeve? He definitely needs to drown out that day, and the day after. We'll need a pretty big story. What's it going to be?

I figure they can play out the Mars thing for at least a couple more weeks, but that's not big news anymore. And how many more headlines can you pull from this Mars ridiculousness anyway? I mean, let's take a look at recent headlines starting from January 14 and going backwards one day and one headline at a time:

  • Bush Outlines Plan for 2015 Moon Landing

  • Bush Plans Science Base on the Moon

  • Bush to Seek Unmanned Mission to Moon This Decade

  • Bush unveils deeper US-India space, nuclear cooperation

  • Officials: Bush Space Plan Not Too Costly

  • Bush Space Plan Envisions New Spacecraft

  • Bush Plans Science Base on the Moon

  • Bush Plans Major Space Announcement

Keep in mind that these are just single selections of the multiple stories that flew across the news wires on each day. 500 is right around the corner. What is Rove going to do?

UPDATE: I wanted to point out a couple of other details surrounding the logistics of any announcement about the 500th soldier killed in Iraq. First, Rove would have been smart enough to figure out that he needed all military casualties piped through a single exit point to be sprayed into the media outlets. Having this single point of outlet is crucial to being able to control exactly what information gets out, and often just as importantly, when that information gets out. I do not know what/where that outlet is - I suppose it goes through command headquarters out in Kuwait. The White House would have a very high level contact there who would be responsible for getting all initial field reports to the White House press people (McClellan, Rove) right away, accurate or not, and then would also be responsible for getting those folks any confirmed reports as soon as available.

Early access to this field information is crucial for Rove and McClellan to figure out a strategy of how to disseminate the information - when?, where?, what are the punchlines we're going to use?, what questions will be answer and how?, which questions will we not answer?, which questions will we shake off as 'absurb' and/or terrorist-sympathizing because they get too close to the truth. They'll anticipate all the questions they're going to receive from the press corps and they'll know the answers ahead of time. Once they are prepared they will disseminate only the bare essential information to Republican leaders - Frist and Delay - what happened? 500 dead. what do I say? Brave soldiers, freedom freedom freedom, terrorist terrorist, Iraqi people, progress progress progress, whatever.

Next stop on this pony express is underlings of Rove and McClellan phoning Robert Novak, Charles Krauthammer, William Safire, and other press lackies to get them a good story for the next day's paper that will deflect attention from the 500th dead, and will paint a rosy picture for the future of the occupation, call into question the patriotism of any who pause to reflect on the sacrifice of our soldiers, etc.

Somewhere along the lines - and this is where I lose it - the editors of the major newspapers will be contacted - leaned on either implicitly or explicitly - to frame the story in a certain way - to not pay too much attention to the upcoming negative headline - to pay more attention and make the lead story of the next day's paper the positive story because that is the patriotic decision, etc. I need to find out who are the editors of the five majors and what their affiliation is. Who pays their salaries? Corporate contacts? Stock holdings? Other business interests?

UPDATE:It's been a day or two since we've had reports of more GI's killed in Iraq. The deaths don't always occur on a linear basis - you could go almost a week with no deaths, and then lose 16 in a helicopter crash. That is the tricky part about Rove's job - how to play the waiting game. You can only stretch a would-be headline out for so long. If you wait too long, the press will not want to play ball. You've got to have something that the press can at least pretend to believe is a story that is not more than a week old. You have to give the press an excuse. That is the point of U.S. propaganda coming out of Iraq, for instance. Bush believers need something to believe in - anything. So, you give it to them. No, our soldiers didn't fire on innocent, unarmed protesters who were trying to exercise their supposedly-newly acquired right to free speech - someone in the crowd fired first, and only then did U.S. soldiers open up on the crowd. Whatever. It doesn't matter if it's believable or not - the sheepy proles who want desperately to believe will believe whatever you put in front of them. Other gullible persons in the middle will have second thoughts. And, in a sense, we haven't been taught that we need to look twice at everything we see and read. Our teachers never told us that in grade school. They never told us the real story of Christopher Columbus - explorer/mass murdered. So, in a sense, it's no wonder that people don't question - they haven't been taught to do so.

So, back to the original point, timing. It's killing me to know what Rove is going to come up with. Maybe he feels a bit protected with a big football weekend coming up, but next weekend will be tough if we don't get 500 out of the way this weekend. No football next weekend - there's always an off week before the superbowl. Drama....

UPDATE:Report of five GI's killed. Does that put us over 500? Where's Rove's story?

UPDATE:It seems I couldn't have been more wrong about this 500 thing. Really. The press gave it next to zippo - and it really came in with a bang, too - three GI's killed by another roadside bomb. Nice. And then a little bomb outside the American base in Baghdad killed a few people. Conflicting reports on whether any Americans bit it. Odd. It was none, then three, then two, then none. Maybe it's just not good news before The State of the Union address. Check out some video here to get a feel for how outrageously massive this bombing was...

UPDATE:Were any US soldiers killed in the half-ton bomb attack or not? This article says two.

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