New York Times reports that the US is paying for propaganda articles to be planted in Iraq newspapers, and also has around a dozen "friendly" Iraqi journalists on its payroll, paying each several hundred dollars a month.
"Even as the State Department and USAID pay contractors millions of dollars to help train journalists and promote a professional and independent Iraqi media, the Pentagon is paying millions more to the Lincoln Group for work that appears to violate fundamental principles of Western journalists," the NYT says.
A PR company, the Lincoln Group, is paid by the Pentagon to translate articles into Arabic and to submit them to Iraqi newspapers or advertising agencies without revealing the Pentagon's role.
"One article about Iraq's oil industry opened with three paragraphs taken verbatim, and without attribution, from a recent report in Al Hayat, a London-based Arabic newspaper. But the military version took out a quotation from an oil ministry spokesman that was critical of American reconstruction efforts. It substituted a more positive message, also attributed to the spokesman, though not as a direct quotation."
Yet another echo of the bad old days. Saddam was generous in rewarding publications and journalists, Iraqi and other Arab, and is said to have given journalists watches with his face on them.