America Supports You.mil Bought Mainstream Media Support in violation of DOD ethics rules.
This is the continuation of an in-depth, multi-post expose on what the Department of Defense Inspector General found distasteful about America Supports You.mil operations.
To read the introduction and earlier post on this topic go to these LINKS:
AmericaSupportsYou.mil Survives Investigation by the Pentagon
Link to Actual DOD/IG Report on America Supports You Irregularities [fink link under Frequently Requested Reports and Documents date 12/12/08]
DOD Inspector General finds that America Supports You.mil paid celebrites for their support
Robert L. Hanafin
Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired
To access a larger font of this post to make it easier reading, please select the printer-friendly version at right.
TO THOSE AMERICANS WHO SINCERELY SUPPORT OUR TROOPS WITHOUT GETTING PAID TO DO SO
THANK YOU – FOR SUPPORTING US TROOPS!
HAVE A GREAT VETERANS’ TODAY DAY – TODAY AND EVERY DAY. DOD/IG Finding: Susan Davis International (SDI), the Pentagon PR firm hired by America Supports You.mil also contacted major media outlets to build support and grow publicity for the ASY program. [I noted that ASY now has a disclaimer on site, since the departure of Bush appointee Allison Barber, and the website has been cleaned up to not reflect any corporate, entertainment, or political endorsements – A SMALL STEP FORWARD. Major Hanafin]
In its Defense contract proposal, SDI emphasized the importance of “branding” [or selling] the ASY program through the national media. SDI discussed key story angles to gain publicity such as the Celebrity Council, corporate supporters, ASY activities (that is, special events), and a radio media tour.
To promote these message [selling] points, SDI would develop a national media kit and regional toolkit that would ensure continuity of message, reinforced branding,
and cohesive outreach to both national and regional media targets. SDI also developed a variety of story angles [some are listed below] and sought out national media opportunities throughout the six month campaign targeting a wide range of media outlets. Key story angles and ideas included:
. . . . . . .
Pitch visual activities to [selective news media] CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and the network morning shows . . .[CBS long though to be a liberal bastion ala departure of Dan Rather, was not immune to this media manipulaton. Major Hanafin]
. . . . . . .
Announce the Celebrity Council to the entertainment press including [Pentagon] reporters and editors at: The LA Times, USA TODAY, the NY Post Page Six, US Weekly, People, Star, Entertainment Weekly, Variety, and Hollywood Reporter.
Pitch stories about the partners and corporate programs [patriotic ads for commercial gain] to support the troops to Fortune, Businessweek, MSNBC, CNBC, and The Wall Street Journal. [War profiteering of the most dishonorable kind. Major Hanafin]
. . . . . . . .
Schedule a radio media tour with ABC Radio, American Urban Radio Network, AP, CBS, CNN, NPR’s Morning Edition, NPR’s All Things Considered, and NPR’s Talk of the Nation. [As if ultra conservative control of the Armed Forces Radio and TV networks (AFRTS) were not bad enough. Major Hanafin]
According to daily reports [records maintained by SDI], SDI solicited media to provide coverage of the ASY program and worked to obtain interviews for ASY personnel. According to SDI, media outlets initially were hesitant to support the ASY program because the program was viewed as DoD attempting to grow support for the war. That viewpoint has subsequently changed and media coverage of the program has increased [based on a mainstream media misreading opinion polls that gave the false impression that the vast majority of American people supported the war. The mainstream media thus became part and parcel of the Pentagon propaganda effort. This was surprising given the impression that the far right-wing gives that mainstream media ignored progress in the war and coverage of our troops. According to the DOD/IG such claims of mainstream media biased against the war are unfounded. It was not until mainstream media realized that the American people sincerely did not support the War on Terror did it back off on propaganda. However, instead of negative or unfavorable war coverage, the media changed the subject to the economy and praise for President Bush’s surge. Major Hanafin’s assessment]
DOD/IG exposes detailed records of SDI [American Support You.mil]Media Manipulation and Collaboration to Sell the War using public tax dollars
January 29, 2007. TV stations were called to encourage running the ASY Valentine’s Day PSA. Confirmed interest with 11 TV stations who would like to run the Valentine’s Day PSA.
. . . . . . .
Call to CBS Sports contacts asking for ASY lower third mention during flyover during Super Bowl. [Flash back to Nuremburg, Germany prior to U.S. occupation]
May 2, 2007. Reached out to Today [S]how and compiled media list to pitch story ideas.
May 3, 2007. Drafted and sent e-mail to Margo Baumgart at Good MorningAmerica regarding May media initiatives.
May 4, 2007. Outreach to Time Magazine, Financial Times, CNN, CBS, NBC,
ABC, and Charlie Rose Show regarding ASY. [Note the recent article posted on Veterans Today regarding Sec. of Defense Gate’s interview with Charlie Rose, then keep in mind that Charlie Rose is among those collaborating to sell the war. Major Hanafin]
August 14, 2007. Pitched Allison Barber [Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for
Internal Communication and Public Liaison] to Fox and Friends. Working on
senior executive meeting at FOX. [Note the emphasis placed on collaboration with FOX news. To those in the Armed Forces who can still think, why is it that every TV in most military facilities is set on FOX News with a sign posted to not change the channel without permission? Major Hanafin – THINK PEOPLE – THINK!]
Additionally, SDI solicited media support of ASY home front organizations [screened and approved for their strong support for President Bush and his war] and a Freedom Walk organizer to obtain media opportunities for these groups [shown preferential treatment by the Pentagon propaganda machine. Major Hanafin].
December 11, 2006. Reached out to Margo Baumgart producer for Good Morning America asking GMA to add ASY link to their website for Operation Homefront/Wal-mart events. [In clear violation of Pentagon ethics codes against DOD endorsement of corporations or commercial products].
February 1, 2007. Assisted in setting up interview for Shauna Fleming [the California teen who thought up the Million Letters of Thanks Program] with KCBS radio in Los Angeles to discuss ASY 2.6 [million letters of thanks] in 2006 and [highlight] her visit to the Pentagon [and White House – On Nov. 17, Shauna presented a Thank You card to President Bush in the Oval Office for his role in the war effort. She also wrote a book with the same name that includes photos of her travels and some of the letters she has received from service members serving overseas, and has had offers to turn her story into a television movie. Now, we are looking forward to Shauna enlisting to join our troops she cares so much about, fat chance given her photo op with President Bush, note emphasis here, book deal, and movie offer that never transpired. Why enlist in the military when one can make beaucoup bucks off US? Frankly, Ms. Fleming has been USED, and our troops have been HAD. Most of this heartwarming support our troop’s BS were paid for and choreographed for something in return or monetary gain NOT to support our troops. Major Hanafin]
May 18, 2007. Spoke to Amy Palmer of Operation Homefront about possibility of featuring Operation Homefront on CBS Early Show. [On balance, I found that Operation Homefront was among the FEW so-called Pentagon approved homefront organizations actually rated highly by most Charity Watchdog organizations as effectively accomplishing their mission of supporting our troops. Major Hanafin]
June 25, 2007. Spoke with Access Hollywood producer regarding Colton Lockner the 9 year old who got an idea from Weekly Reader to start a Freedom Walk in Ohio] appearance on set of Disney’s Hannah Montana.
June 26, 2007. Continued “working on” matching up homefront groups with CBS summer city tour.
July 3, 2007. Started filling out application with CNN Heroes Special for Colton Lockner’s nomination.
At left, Stand-In Meterologist John Bolaris [also a Chief Meteorologist at FOX News] for the CBS Early Show interviews ASY spokesperson Roxie Merritt outside the CBS studios during Fleet Week. The segment was one of four ASY features leading up to Memorial Day 2007.
Further, the America Support You.mil program released a press release on March 17, 2005, making the Deputy Assistant Secretary [Allison Barber] “available” to the media to discuss the program as part of a parallel story on the 2-year anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. [Note the parallel emphasis on selling the War on Terror].
For media outlets covering the anniversary story, an important parallel story angle is the broad and diverse outpouring of support of the American people for our service members and their families, especially those serving in harm’s way.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Internal Communications and Public Liaison, is available to discuss the “America Support[s] You” program and the importance of recognizing the support of the American people for our Armed Forces.
DOD/IG Finding: The direct solicitation of media coverage to publicize the ASY program is inappropriate. The program operations need to be focused on how to communicate public support to the troops.
The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs needs to take appropriate action and create adequate controls to ensure that employees or contractors do not violate the ethics regulations relating to solicitation, fundraising, and endorsement.
Major Hanafin’s Translation:
The former Assistant Secretary of Defense responsible for America Supports Bush.mil may or may not be off the hook. Because as a U.S. Senior Federal employee (regardless which President appointed her) she remains subject to the Office of Special Counsel investigation for ethics and related violations. The U.S. Office of Special Council IS NOT under Pentagon supervision or control and will shortly have personnel appointed by the Obama administration. Any current of former America Supports You.mil personnel having knowledge of or information on the corruption and ethical code violations found by DOD/IG would be better served to report such information to the U.S. Office of Special Council at http://www.osc.gov/. If you are a current employee, submit your information or questions or challenge via the Whistle Blower Disclosures link.
DOD/IG or better yet some independent Watch Dog source appointed by Congress or even President-elect Obama must ensure that whoever takes over the America Supports You propaganda program in 2009 does take appropriate action and create adequate controls to ensure that employees or contractors do not violate the ethics regulations relating to solicitation, fundraising, and endorsement. Regardless, America Supports You.mil now becomes a very ineffective propaganda program except for selling the war only to those fighting and dying in it. If nothing else, Indy media must follow-up to ensure this program does not continue to use tax payer dollars for unethical and abusive propaganda purposes to sell America on the war or our troops. Frankly, I’m amazed that not enough Americans are OUTRAGED that our troops are for sale.
[The Father of State Propaganda once said words to this effect: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State” [in this case America Supports Bush.mil]. Of course, he was talking about a Fascist State, and WE live in a Demoncracy. “
Suffice it to say that America Support You.mil collaborated with an expensive PR Firm, corporate America, the Country Western entertainment and related down home entertainers, and of course the media to sell Americans on ASY and of course the war moreso than it supported our troops, and FAILED miserably. That more than anything leads intelligent people to see the waste in tax payer dollars. Any Pentagon planner worth a salt can see that this plan just does not work.
Give them credit for this. ASY used a brilliant propagandist technique and almost got away with it. They failed! Why?
The American people overwhelmingly never supported the War on Terror, what little support there was continued to be wasted. In the final analysis American Supports You.mil virtually ended up Preaching to the Choir of what less than one percent of the American electorate?
ASY may have been more successful if it had concentrated on selling the war only and not try fronting itself as a troop support effort that the vast majority of Americans could care less about.
Robert L. Hanafin, Major, USAF-Retired
My next expose will detail just how much in tax payer dollars was spent on selling America Supports Bush.mil