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

    October 15, 2012 // 6 Comments »

    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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    Posted in Embassy/State