• State Department Propaganda Piece or WaPo “Journalism” Can You Tell?

    October 15, 2012

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Embassy/State

    The State Department has always had a cozy relationship with its home town newspaper, the Washington Post. When times are tough, State can always count on WaPo for a puff piece, a planted Op-Ed or a killed story to make the day brighter. We talked about one, on Haiti Reconstruction, here and some here.

    But enough partisanship. Instead, today, we will have a blind taste test. Two articles, one from the Post and one from State’s own propaganda team. Both pieces are on “culinary diplomacy.” I’ll put up quotes, and you see if you can tell the State-written propaganda from the Washington Post written “journalism.” Blindfolds on?

    Souffle (A)

    Isabella is one of the first chefs to be tapped by the State Department to serve as a culinary ambassador abroad, part of an ambitious new undertaking to use food as a diplomatic tool. Initiated by the U.S. Chief of Protocol Capricia Penavic Marshall and blessed by her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership aims to “elevate the role of culinary engagement in America’s formal and public diplomacy efforts,” according to a mission statement.

    The wide-ranging effort creates an American Chef Corps, a network of culinary leaders who could be deployed to promote U.S. cooking and agricultural products abroad. “They might meet with an embassy, cook a lunch, post blogs or [write] articles, speak at events,” says Marshall, listing the many ways participants might engage.

    Souffle (B)

    This month, the State Department welcomed 25 chefs and foodies from all over the world to Washington, D.C., as part of an exciting new International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). From Brazil to Vietnam, every country in the world has a unique food culture, and the United States is no exception. Throughout this IVLP, participants are meeting with high profile chefs to discuss the influences of food and culture on American communities.

    The international chefs and foodies met with many in the American Chef Corps throughout their U.S. visit, as they discussed using the shared experience of food to engage foreign audiences and to bring people of varied backgrounds and cultural identities together. The group also saw their work play a larger community role after volunteering at the DC Central Kitchen. Everyone enjoyed preparing food for those in need; as one participant said: “When people are full, they are happy. Then they are better to each other.”


    Voila! Can you tell which is real journalism from a Pulitzer-awarded newspaper and which was written by a hack whose nose was implanted in some Under Secretary of Nothing’s oven? Hah hah, neither can we! Kudos to the Washington Post for journalism and a better informed American public!

    Souffle A was made exclusively with WaPo quotes; Souffle B came from State Department propaganda. A request for comment to the Washington Post Ombudsman remains unanswered.

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  • Recent Comments

    • john brown said...


      Peter — Actually, at the risk of being serious, I think I can tell the difference right away. Most newspapers would not use a USG acronym (“IVLP”) in a piece on the topic at hand … Best, john

      10/15/12 2:47 PM | Comment Link

    • Mark Main said...


      “A request for comment to the Washington Post Ombudsman remains unanswered.”

      That’s because the Ombudsman is waiting for his answer from the state dept to arrive. 😉

      10/15/12 7:18 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      Maybe we could sponsor a cook off in the Middle East?? If you are going to talk food though, will the Iranians be involved? Yum, pomegranate khoresh. Maybe they will come despite their access to World at Warcraft being cut off

      Was that a typo in the Souffle A article – because it sounds like American participants would be preparing meals at the embassy? Will we be inviting people for a hamburger or pizza and coke? Not that they can’t get that at a local cafe or maybe there’s a McDonald’s in country.

      Peace Corps volunteers usually do stuff like this, especially Thanksgiving and they share with people the State Department would never dream of sharing with. My group got together and organized a feast each Thanksgiving and eight of us each spent a day’s wage — $2.75 — and were able to invite 30 people. Doing something like this on a budget for a government agency, WOULD be the challenge lol. And we still had food left over…

      10/15/12 10:59 PM | Comment Link

    • Lafcadio said...


      Each and every day, I see this stuff like this at work.

      And I shake my head ruefully. . .

      10/15/12 11:58 PM | Comment Link

    • Mr. Shea Brown said...


      Well heck,, they’ve gotta spend their budget money on something, or how else will they be able to demand even more next year ??? Visiting chefs probably cost us two or three million at least. Whoowee Wahington ! Spend it like you actually have it to spend !! Morons.

      10/16/12 2:29 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      Is this permitted per the Smith Mundt act??

      10/16/12 9:00 AM | Comment Link

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