Libya’s Lousy PR

One theme of the coverage of the NATO bombing of Libya is that the Libyan government is lousy at propaganda.

It was somewhat jarring, though, to see all of these headlines in the space of two days this week. It’s worth pointing out– as some of these stories (and others) do– that the NATO bombing has intensified over the past few days, making these ‘no dead civilians here’ pieces seem curiously timed.

I guess this could be seen as a message to the Libyan government: This is how the professionals do it.

New York Times (6/7/11):

“Libya Stokes Its Machine Generating Propaganda”

Sightings of civilian casualties have been rare, though not for want of official endeavor. But 11 weeks into the airstrikes, the government minders’ credibility, at least among foreign reporters, has worn perilously thin.

Visits to bombing sites, hospitals and funerals have produced a succession of blunders, including patients identified as bombing victims who turned out not to be, empty coffins at funerals and burials where some of those interred turned out not to be airstrike victims at all.

Wall Street Journal (6/7/11):

“Libya’s PR Efforts Are Falling Short”

Libya’s government says more than 700 civilians have been killed and more than 4,000 wounded in NATO airstrikes. But officials haven’t shown foreign reporters in Tripoli evidence of large numbers of civilian casualties.

Los Angeles Times (6/7/11):

“Libya Officials Put a Spin on Conflict”

Moammar Gadafi’s government alleges a mounting civilian toll and massive damage amid a punishing NATO-led bombing campaign. Foreign journalists learn that what officials say happened may not necessarily be the case.

Washington Post (6/6/11):

“Libya Government Fails to Prove Claims of NATO Casualties”

Nearly three months into NATO’s bombing campaign, Moammar Gadhafi’s government churns out daily propaganda about the alliance supposedly inflicting civilian casualties. Last week, it said that 718 people had died from mid-March to late May and that 4,067 had suffered significant injuries.

But it has failed to show foreign journalists more than a handful of dead or wounded people. Indeed, when reporters are taken on official trips, what they see suggests that NATO is being accurate and careful.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.