The media just doesn't seem as troubled by the Obama administration buying favorable coverage in foreign newspapers as it was when the Bush administration propagandized. Still, I'm surprised this story isn't getting more attention. There's something for everyone here -- an administration buying coverage that is laughable on its face, a respected institution of journalism prostituting itself for the U.S. government, an Iraqi politician declared "Global Personality of the Year for 2009." Rogin reports:
U.S. taxpayer money that was supposed to be used for emergency purposes in Iraq was spent to buy a special advertising issue for an Anbar businessman in a British trade magazine, a U.S. government investigation has found.
FDI magazine, a bimonthly print publication and website owned by the Financial Times, nearly simultaneously showered Anbar Governor Qasim Abid Muhammad Hammadi Al Fahadawi with positive coverage, praising the dangerous Anbar province as "a hot place to invest in" and giving the businessman an award as "Global Personality of the Year for 2009."
FDI's award was announced three days before the "Special Report" on Anbar, entitled, "Bridge to the Future," was published on its website. The award was immediately praised by the U.S. military in Iraq, without mention of the U.S. funds spent on the supplement, and the website makes no mention of it having been paid for by the American government. Then again last month, FDI magazine Editor Courtney Fingar handed the governor another award naming Anbar province one of FDI magazine's "standout regions of the year."
Reached by The Cable, Fingar confirmed the U.S. government had spent "in the neighborhood of $50,000" on the special supplement but denied her magazine's content had been bought and paid for, calling the report on Anbar "balanced and accurate."
If this had happened in 2006 -- well, Anbar has come a long way since 2006 thanks to the determination of U.S. troops and the surge of forces implemented by Bush and Petraeus over the objections of Obama -- the left would have screamed bloody murder and mocked the propaganda program for weeks on end. When Obama does it it's no big deal. No calls for a special investigations into the administration's use of federal tax dollars to buy favorable coverage. No calls for a retraction and explanation from the Financial Times. No nothing.