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[] White House prepares to feed 24-hour news cycle,

White House prepares to feed 24-hour news cycle

Written by Douglas Quenqua 
Published on March 24 2003

WASHINGTON: The eruption of war in Iraq last week set in motion a
massive global PR network, cultivated by the Bush administration during
the months-long buildup of forces.

The network is intended not only to disseminate, but also to dominate
news of the conflict around the world.

Before the attacks began, Suzy DeFrancis, deputy assistant to President
Bush for communications, outlined the daily media relations hand-off
that was about to begin.

"When Americans wake up in the morning, they will first hear from the
(Persian Gulf) region, maybe from General Tommy Franks," she said. "Then
later in the day, they'll hear from the Pentagon, then the State
Department, then later on the White House will brief."

Before anyone goes on air, however, White House press secretary Ari
Fleischer will set the day's message with an early-morning conference
call to British counterpart Alastair Campbell, White House
communications director Dan Bartlett, State Department spokesman Richard
Boucher, Pentagon spokesperson Torie Clarke, and White House Office of
Global Communication (OGC) director Tucker Eskew - a routine that
mirrors procedure during the conflict in Afghanistan.

The OGC, an office born out of post-September-11 efforts to combat
anti-American news stories emerging from Arab countries, will be key in
keeping all US spokespeople on message. Each night, US embassies around
the world, along with all federal departments in DC, will receive a
"Global Messenger" e-mail containing talking points and ready-to-use

While an obvious benefit to having communicators spread across time
zones is the ability to dominate the 24-hour news cycle, DeFrancis said
the White House would enforce clear jurisdictions between departments.

For example, "this being a military conflict, operational questions will
be handled from the Pentagon," she said.

In a dramatic shift from past conflicts, administration officials have
made it clear they'll rely on independent journalists, "embedded" by the
Pentagon with military units, to act as one of their most reliable PR

"That's the first time it's ever been done," DeFrancis offered.

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