How to speak to journalists for dummies

After the recent revelations of a Pentagon-led plan to twist US media coverage of the “war on terror”, Wikileaks uncovers a 2006 document titled, “Media is the Battlefield: Tactics, Techniques and Procedures“. Produced for those in the US military, typical statements include:

You do not have to regurgitate the Secretary of Defense’s responses, but you can ensure that your messages are in line and focused on how things are from your foxhole. Military leaders must be aware of what is being said to avoid their comments being taken out of context. For example, if the President said yesterday, “There are indications that foreign fighters are involved in conducting these attacks,” and you say, “We have no indications of foreign fighter involvement,” it would appear that you are not on the same sheet of music. If you knew what the President’s statement was, you could have rephrased your response to more accurately articulate your message.


The interview itself is all about control. You want it; the reporter wants it. You have to learn how to structure effective answers and control the interview. Do not be question-driven; be message-driven. The trick is to use your messages as guideposts and not repeated phrases. This is where skill, preparation, and experience come in. You should be trying to articulate command messages that will positively influence the outcome of your mission. Use the media as a “nonlethal fire.”

The Bush administration has made the US military just one more outpost in its plans to “democratise” the world.

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