Slate‘s Timothy Noah rounds up some public relations experts to explain the increasingly reality-challenged statements of/give advice to Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf. Meanwhile, In the SF Chron, Ashraf Khalil comments on a live FoxNews interview with US troops in one of Sadaam’s palaces, juxtaposed with a live rooftop statement from al-Sahhaf denying that there were any US soldiers in Baghdad. [Khalil bonus: the translator apparently struggles and ad-libs to accurately capture all the color of al-Sahhaf’s statements.]
As bloghdadded earlier, the NYT‘s John F. Burns was ahead of this news curve; here’s how he closed his April 3 report from the streets of Baghad Read carefully. You don’t have to argue over the definition of “cakewalk” to see that, in PR terms, al-Sahhaf is not actually lying (well, except for the whole “bitterly defeated” part) :
At Kut, [al-Sahhaf] said, the Americans had been “bitterly defeated.” At Hilla, too.
“We’re giving them a real lesson today,” he burbled. ” `Heavy’ doesn’t accurately describe the level of casualties we have inflicted.”
As for reports that American troops were nearing the airport at Baghdad, he chuckled. “The Americans aren’t even 100 miles from Baghdad,” he said.
I say, credibility straining, obfuscation, and trying to put a pretty face on ugly events is SOP for an Information Minister, even if his title is “White House Press Secretary.” Mike McCurry empathizes, “”I’m sure the poor guy has to do this because someone’s going to shoot him if he doesn’t. At least I never had that problem.” That sighing sound you hear may be a sadly envious Ari Fleischer.
Update: Slate rounds third with a lengthy list of al-Sahhaf profiles and fascinating speculations.