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The latest furor over the Boston bomber is his picture on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, or rather the reaction of some retail businesses, refusing to sell this issue. It is a classical, visceral response triggered by the association of the alternative media reputation of the magazine with the attractive picture of the young man, as if it were some kind of endorsement of his deeply anti-social act.

Of course, it is and it isn’t. The cover copy describes him as a “monster.” And the same photo has appeared elsewhere, including in the New York Times. But, the combination of the appealing photo on the cover of this infamous alternative media publication seems to imply to some that he is being treated as some sort of rock star.

I have my own reasons for disliking the style of Rolling Stone, having once been personally attacked in its pages, and quite inappropriately so. But I suppose Bill McCrystal thinks the same thing about himself.

Anyway, that some companies like Walgreen drug stores refuse to sell this issue of the magazine is their own business, in my view. After all, companies are made up of people, just like magazines, and they have a right to their own views. The bomber is repugnant, and on this most agree. How we choose to treat him in the court of public opinion is up to each of us, and the private sector organizations to which we give our fealty. But what the courts do is a matter of law, not just of taste. And the taste we have in our mouths is a pretty awful one.
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The Rolling Stone is at it again, and raising the question about whether Psy-Ops units charged with propaganda targeted at the enemy should also be “targeting” U.S. Congress people and other diplomats and leaders to influence their thinking about increasing funding or troop levels for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Normally Public Affairs units would prepare background briefing papers and message points and presentations to be used by commanders in their interface with such decision makers.

As an old Army public affairs officer, and a career PR person, I understand the role of Public Affairs in helping their commanders communicate with non-military leadership decision-makers, but I never encountered Psychological Operations staffs normally charged with propaganda to influence the enemy being drafted to use propaganda techniques to win over internal VIPS.

I don’t know enough to judge, but one wonders if some generals might have college paranoid fantasies they developed after reading the book 1984 bouncing around up in their festering base-camp minds and leading them to lose grasp of the distinctions between fact-based, rhetorical arguments and outright psychological manipulation.

Here’s the article prompting the current blaze of media angst: http://www.readersupportednews.org/off-site-news-section/46-46/5065-army-deploys-psy-ops-on-us-senators

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