Winning the Hearts and Minds

The Bush administration is having trouble telling the other side of the story in Iraq (search).

While the major media focus on the problems that include the occasional shooting of coalition forces, many good developments are ignored. The result is a skewed impression and a distorted picture.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (search) wrote an essay for last Monday's Wall Street Journal detailing some of the successes: the re-opening of virtually all hospitals and universities; the training and arming of 55,000 Iraqis for security and defense of their country; the training of a new Iraqi army; the opening of 5,000 small businesses since Iraq was liberated from Saddam Hussein on May 1.

The big media aren't reporting much of this because failure is a better story than success. And a close election next year is more exciting than a blowout.

What can the Bush administration do to breakthrough the media information blockade? It should follow the example of the Clinton administration.

When President Clinton needed media help, he called his friend Harry Thomasson in Hollywood. Thomasson would put together TV commercials and events that promoted the president and his policies.

If the major media won't show success in Iraq, the Bush people should create a scenario that will demand attention. Some of the freed Iraqis could even be brought to America for a "thank you" event and to tell their stories. Far more people would see and respond to such testimonials than will read Secretary Rumsefeld's Wall Street Journal piece.

In a media age, the one who controls the pictures and storyline wins the hearts and minds of the people.

There aren't many supporters of the president in Hollywood, but there are enough to do the job. And in case the administration has forgotten, Hollywood's area code is 213.

And that's Column One for this week.

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