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Thursday, 8 November, 2001, 17:15 GMT
US appoints terror war spin doctor
Muslim women watch Osama Bin Laden on television
The US worries it is losing the propaganda war
Fears over crumbling public support for the coalition have prompted the Bush administration to launch a new propaganda offensive.

The US president has appointed a top advertising executive, Charlotte Beers, as the new Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy.


There's a feeling here in Washington that the US did not get its message out promptly or effectively

Jim Hoagland, Washington Post
The move comes less than two weeks after the announcement that a media centre is to be set up in Islamabad.

Ms Beers' job will be to coordinate the contact between the government and the media.

Many see her appointment as a sign that the administration is dissatisfied with the way the conflict has been covered.

"Certainly in the Arab world and in the Muslim world, there's a feeling here in Washington that the US did not get its message out promptly or effectively," Washington Post assistant editor and chief foreign correspondent Jim Hoagland said in an interview.

But he believes hiring a high profile advertising executive is not the answer.

Colin Powell
Ms Beers has worked with Powell in the past
"The idea that putting out Madison Avenue techniques is going to solve the problem is going to be something that the astute American public is going to see through pretty quickly," he said.

Charlotte Beers has been dubbed "the most famous woman in advertising" and was chairman of J Walter Thompson until her contract expired last month.

She will report to Colin Powell as one of just six undersecretaries of state.

Ms Beers has worked with Mr Powell before. She and her new boss served together on the board of Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.

Media centre

Ms Beers' appointment marks the coalition's second propaganda offensive this month.

On 1 November, the US and Britain announced that a "Coalition Information Centre" is to be set up in Islamabad.

Similar centres will open in London and Washington to counter what the prime minister's official spokesman refers to as "untruths and lies".


The intervention by the US and British governments in the media services and dissemination of information to people endangers the future of political and civil freedoms

Al-Hayat newspaper article
The UK and US are believed to fear that time differences are giving the Taleban a public relations head start, so that their version of the night's events dominates the Pakistani news agenda. Islamabad is five hours ahead of London and 10 hours ahead of New York.

But a London-based Arabic paper describes the coalition's strategy as "dangerous".

"The intervention by the US and British governments in the media services and dissemination of information to people endangers the future of political and civil freedoms," said an article in Al-Hayat published on Saturday, "not only in the United States and Britain, but also in all the countries in the world.

"This step will... encourage undemocratic regimes to continue to control the press and media and justify for these regimes the continued existence of information ministries and political propaganda mouthpieces."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post
"The US did not get its message out promptly or effectively"
See also:

01 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Media war goes to Pakistan
03 Nov 01 | South Asia
US scorns Taleban helicopter claim
10 Oct 01 | South Asia
Interview: Taleban ambassador Zaeef
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