One of the first casualties of increasingly dictatorial governments is plain, honest language. Everything becomes wrapped in euphemism. Illegal bombing campaigns become non-combat operations. Rights-violating laws become safety-enhancement measures. Shooting wars become kinetic operations. Recessions become merely technical and are better left unmentioned.
So it’s refreshing, in some senses, that Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. John Vance eschewed euphemism in describing his plans for his department’s plans vis-a-vis public information – he intends to “weaponize” it.
That’s about the only encouraging aspect of this story, which David Pugliese at the Ottawa Citizen broke last week and which didn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserved.
Some key quotes:
There will be more strategic leaks by the Canadian Forces/DND to journalists who are deemed “friendly” to the military. Such leaks will consist mainly of “good news” stories or positive initiatives and the journalists will be required to heavily promote those.
Equally important, is the flip-side of this “weaponization” strategy. That is the targeting of journalists who are writing or broadcasting the stories that the CF/DND don’t want out in the public domain.
Journalists seen as “trouble-makers” are those producing stories about failed equipment purchases or uncovering details about severely injured soldiers not being treated properly or individuals being sexually harassed, etc., public affairs officers tell Defence Watch. In other words, reporters who are producing what the CF/DND views as negative or embarrassing news stories.
The “weaponization” aspect will come into play with phone calls to media bosses, letters to the editor, etc. – anything to undercut the credibility of such journalists in the eyes of readers and their employers, NDHQ public affairs sources say. Other tactics aimed at these journalists could also be developed.
In other words: journalists who do their jobs by uncovering newsworthy information and sharing it with the public will be treated as pesky “trouble-makers” by the Department of National Defence, which will do anything in their power to “undercut their credibility” in the eyes of the public. Continue Reading