Raw footage for the award-winning series The 90's. Videomaker Eddie Becker gets a tour of the Foreign Press Center and interviews Director Jim Pope. Becker also speaks with Journalist Robert Perry about the use of propaganda themes by the U.S. Government.
00:00Copy video clip URL Open on a press conference with a group of Georgian diplomats. A Georgian diplomat answers questions through the use of a translator. He first addresses a question about the banning of certain music, specifically jazz, under the Soviet Union. He also talks about Willis Conover and says most Georgians know of him.
04:01Copy video clip URL Willis Conover, jazz producer on Voice of America, talks about how musician Benny Goodman used to ask him for recommendations of other musicians to take to the Soviet Union. He states that Goodman took about 75 percent of Conover’s recommendations. The Georgian diplomat and translator continue to answer questions about some of the ethnic problems in Georgia. Becker gathers footage of a Georgian cameraman as he documents the event. Conover goes on to talk about Goodman’s visit to the Soviet Union.
09:32Copy video clip URL Conover is asked about the most popular form of jazz among his listeners. Conover first responds by saying that there are as many different forms of jazz as there are people playing it. He labels it as a “personal expression.” “It’s another form of speech in a sense and everyone speaks in his or her own way.” Conover then talks about the many different elements of jazz music. He refers to jazz as more of a cultural convergence. “The music came together as the people came together. Many Americans are not aware of how fortunate they are that their ancestors came here so that they could be born here…That is part of the appeal, and part of it is the freedom of expression within a group. It is typical of jazz but it’s also typical of the best of the American system. It’s a parallel to the structure of the American system and people recognize that in other countries and it appeals to them, partly for the music and partly for the feeling of independent self-disciplined freedom.”The press conference ends shortly afterward.
12:30Copy video clip URL Jim Pope of the Foreign Press Center speaks with Seema Sirohi of The Telegraph of Calcutta, India. Sirohi talks about a controversial story that had been printed in The Telegraph about General Dynamics, a U.S. defense industry contractor, planning a possible war between India and Pakistan. Pope and Sirohi continue to talk about the story and the negative impact it has had on U.S. ambassadors.
23:10Copy video clip URL Jim Pope gives Becker a tour of the Foreign Press Center. He talks about his responsibilities as director of the Washington office. He states that they have 600 resident foreign journalists and that close to one thousand foreign journalists come through the press center each year. Pope then guides Becker through the facility. Upon arriving in the briefing room, Pope states that they get live feeds from the White House and Pentagon briefings on closed circuit television. Pope then takes Becker into the control room. He states that most of the live briefings are videotaped. He goes on to talk about the Willis Conover and Soviet Georgia briefing. He then cites the importance of promoting American culture through their programming. Pope continues to guide Becker through a tour of the facility.
32:08Copy video clip URL Pope states that the press center has no control over the output of the foreign correspondents. “What we hope is that by providing as many opportunities for them to talk to people who either make policy, implement policy, or influence policy, that they will report more accurately and more fully about what happens in the United States.” Pope continues to give Becker a tour of the press center. He goes on to talk about the daily objectives of a program officer.
35:03Copy video clip URL Pope shows Becker the small television studio at the center. He talks about the use of the television studio and states that many journalists utilize the studio for one-on-one interviews. He goes on to talk about some of the programs the Polish journalists and correspondents have been putting together.
40:31Copy video clip URL Becker asks Pope how possible it is to influence what goes on in another country by the kind of reporting that comes out of Washington. “I have no yardstick for measuring it, but I do feel that the kinds of assistance we provide in a timely fashion and at the request of correspondents enables them to cover much more than they normally would.” Pope goes on to talk about the possible negative impact inaccurate reporting can have on the country. He goes on to say, “If this new world order that the President talks about means that people are going to work together cooperatively for the betterment of all, then it means that communication is a very important link and one of the best means of communicating with people in other countries is through the media of those countries.”
46:56Copy video clip URL Pope states that there are a few good examples of inaccurate reporting and states that we in the U.S. may be a little too sensitive about the criticism of U.S. policy. Pope goes on to talk about hostile journalism. He states that the press center does not go out looking for hostile journalists. He goes on to say that those who are hostile generally don’t come. Pope goes on to talk about some of the other television services the press center offers for journalists. He also continues to guide Becker around the premises.
52:45Copy video clip URL When asked about the importance of America’s image around the world, Pope responds, “I think that if we expect to develop cooperative relations with other countries, we must be seen in a very positive light. We must be seen as a caring nation, a nation that’s going about the business not only of developing its own resources but helping other people. And this is one of the things that we’ve put a lot of time and effort into. I think the fact that the U.S. does work so closely with foreign journalists is an example of our interest in the well being of other peoples.”
54:25Copy video clip URL Pope talks about the personal satisfaction he has gained from his work. He states that he is very satisfied with how much the press center has grown and goes on to talk about some of their outreach programs.
56:43Copy video clip URL Cut to Pope’s office. Pope searches for a telegram about Sirohi’s story on General Dynamics. Upon finding the telegram, Pope reads the article and comes to the conclusion that it is most likely inaccurate reporting. He states that the story had nothing to with the U.S. Government. Pope goes into far more detail about the article’s legitimacy.
01:06:00Copy video clip URL Pope and Becker begin to talk about past directors of the Foreign Press Center. They talk about former director Frank Gomez and his work during the Iran Contra Affair. Pope talks about Gomez’s interest in Central America and the types of programs he established during his tenure. Pope goes on to talk about the Office of Public Diplomacy.
01:11:32Copy video clip URL Becker says that, in a sense, the Foreign Press Center is the “PR company of the company.” Pope goes on to talk about the work of the press center and that their policies are sound. He goes on to talk about some of the problems the press center encounters. He also talks about the notion that other U.S. government organizations presume that the center has a lot of control over the foreign journalists. Pope says that everything the center does is in the interest of the U.S. and that it is “just one of many sources for the press.” The interview ends shortly afterward.
01:15:09Copy video clip URL Cut to an interview with Robert Perry, who had been involved with uncovering the Iran Contra story while reporting for the Associated Press. We cut in on the interview right in the middle of one of Perry’s answers.
01:16:49Copy video clip URL Perry talks about his objectives as a reporter. “Mostly it’s a matter of being, of sort of doing your job… my job was to get the story, so I went out to get the story and the more obstacles they put in my way, the more I sort of got determined to get it, but you pay prices and in the real world you don’t always get the story quite as easily as you’d like to.” The two then begin to talk about the Office of Public Diplomacy.
01:17:50Copy video clip URL Perry talks about the ways in which the U.S. influences the way other countries view the U.S. Perry goes into detail about the history of psychological operations in America. Perry talks about CIA operative Ed Lansdale and his work in developing psychological operations. “The idea that he had was that you study the weaknesses of different cultures and you determine what in those cultures you can exploit to make them do what you want.” Perry goes into more detail about Lansdale’s theories. He goes on to talk about the role of black propaganda in the U.S.
01:20:45Copy video clip URL Perry talks about how the U.S. tried to influence Nicaraguans into disliking Daniel Ortega, then President of Nicaragua. Perry lays out some of the propaganda themes the U.S. has utilized. Perry goes on to talk about the Vietnam Syndrome and how both the Reagan and Bush Administrations have focused on figuring out ways to reducing fears of war among American citizens. He eventually begins to talk about the specific themes that the Office of Public Diplomacy used to sell the idea of going to war with Nicaragua.
01:32:42Copy video clip URL Perry talks about the cultural sympathy towards the U.S. from Nicaraguans. He then makes a few comments about propaganda theory. “It is basic propaganda theory to try to shift the blame from yourself onto your enemy, and it’s what were talking about basically: that if you can blame the Sandinistas for different kinds of failures, that is economic failures, then you’ve in a sense absolved the United States.” Perry then talks about the Reagan administration and their efforts to cut Nicaragua off financially. He goes on to talk about the use of low-intensity conflict. He talks about the negative effects of these propaganda themes.
01:38:03Copy video clip URL Becker asks Perry about the basic approach to propaganda themes. Perry begins to talk about modern political campaigns and the use of polling and focus groups into shaping certain propaganda themes. He also talks about some of the themes used during the Gulf War. He goes on to talk about the sophistication of propaganda themes and how they’ve evolved over time. He continues to talk about the subject in greater detail. Perry eventually pauses the interview to answer his telephone.
01:43:57Copy video clip URL Perry talks about government’s inclination to make mistakes. He says that governments can take advantage of another government’s mistake. Perry states that if these mistakes are seized upon at the right time, the people involved can be made to be the subject of ridicule. He talks about the subject in greater detail, focusing on the American government’s efforts regarding Nicaragua.
01:47:53Copy video clip URL Perry talks about his admiration for whistleblowers who expose wrongdoing in government affairs. “Almost always when people have reached that point where they feel that the American public ought to know something, they have a good reason to say that. I’ve never seen people frivolously leak material that they’re not supposed to provide.” He goes on to say that the government has over-classified a large amount of information in hopes to avoid the destruction of certain propaganda themes.
01:50:07Copy video clip URL Tape ends.