Concerns about propaganda rise as the Pentagon ups public relations spending, or at least this is what Chris Thomlinson reports for Newsweek.
An Associated Press investigation concluded that over the past five years the money the US military spent on PR home and abroad has grown by 63%. The numbers are stunning: over $4.5 billion means almost as much as the US Department of Defense spent on body armor for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2006. If this surprises you, wait till you hear that the budget for PR is actually just 1% of the Pentagon budget:
Yet the money spent on media and outreach still comes to only 1 percent of the Pentagon budget, and the military argues it is well-spent on recruitment and the education of foreign and American audiences. Military leaders say that at a time when extremist groups run Web sites and distribute video, information is as important a weapon as tanks and guns.
According to the same report, Joint Hometown News Service, which is a directorate of the US Defense Media Activity, plans to put out 5400 press releases, 3000 TV releases and 1600 radio interviews in 2009. That’s 50% more than in 2007.
These numbers alone are a proof that Pentagon’s media empire is larger in size and power than many media companies. To understand why the growing media influence of the Pentagon is concerning, read Chris Thomlinson’s analysis here.