MARCH 6, 2000
CNN flap
© 2000

When I agreed to expand my participation in WorldNetDaily, Joseph Farah -- WND founder and big kahuna -- eventually settled on three flavors of Geoff Metcalf:

Joe is an innovative, insightful guy, and a savvy newsman. He recognized that too often good stories -- stories that will either be ignored or missed by the mainstream -- could fall through the cracks of editorial triage. He wants me to try to catch some of those stories and report them. If I can't write it, I can, do, and will forward it to our growing network and "someone" will write it.

New Media is going through a growth spurt. Nowhere is that more evident than with the recent rapid explosion right here. I have often written and talked about the symbiotic relationship between talk radio and the Internet -- hell, I live it everyday. Although this symbiosis may have been born on the concept of mutual exploitation, it is synthesizing into something that is new, and something that frankly is superior to the parts of the whole.

Recently, I sent a 565-word story that frankly underwhelmed me. It was interesting but hardly earth shaking. CNN employed some Army PSYOP soldiers.

Actually in the wake of CNN's reputation for overt, vast left wing conspiracy spin control, it seemed oxymoronic. I mean come on. ...

However, there were a couple of elements that prompted me to submit the story despite the absurdity of a military dog wagging the ubiquitous "Clinton News Network." First (and I admit I haven't worn my Army officers uniform in 10 years), it used to be illegal for the military to conduct psychological warfare on Americans. Then again Posse Commitatus used to make it illegal to use military assets as cops. Secondly, it wasn't difficult to get confirmation from the U.S. Army about the assignments; while CNN is fretting in the shadows of the evil empire struggling to craft a statement. The very silence and obfuscation of delaying a comment creates the perception of impropriety even if in reality there was none.

I haven't had as strong a response since I first wrote about Monica (days before the mainstream broke the story). One of the keyboard soldiers wrote, "I feel you article was an example of poor journalism. It is obvious you know very little about Psychological Operations, and that you did not make much effort to become informed. I feel your attempt to portray this program as a government conspiracy is deplorable."

On the other side of coin, a retired lieutenant colonel wrote, "I would like to inform you that this article just hit a sensitive nerve. I went through the school ... and I was assigned to the Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg for two years. The first hour of the Psyops School was the Federal Law, which prohibited us from ever using Psyops on the American People. They read us the riot act and told us what would happen if we ever violated the law. We would get a nice vacation in the Federal Pen. Sorry I don't remember the number of the Federal Law but I'm sure a Lawyer could find it rather quickly. How did these people get away with this?" A former PSYOP officer (and personal friend) wrote, "Not that surprising to me. Mass communication media are a big part of what PSYOP is about. ... It's natural that they'd want to learn the 'state of the art' on how it's done. ... The big question, of course, is whether this kind of training and experience could be misused here. That could never happen, of course, any more than military training provided to the FBI and other agencies could ever be misused. We had military special-ops folks 'training' on the ground at Waco, too -- what could go wrong?"

It has been fascinating to read the e-mail (increasingly obvious) which is coming in from PSYOP soldiers "insulted," "offended" and "appalled" at my lack of everything from brain cells to integrity. It is amusing to see these would-be word warriors expend their written ordinance. Many of the vilifying phrases are strikingly similar. My gross ineptitude at referring to the craft as "Psyops" instead of the correct nomenclature of PSYOP is an affront approaching sacrilege. No less than a dozen focused on this as proof of my incompetence. However, what I found disappointingly obvious were the common threads that connect so many of these critics of frankly a pretty minor story:

One reader wrote with a tangible shrug, "No big deal. ... The PSYOP folks are nowhere near as good as CNN at messing with people's minds. I am sure it was a learning experience."

In the spirit of mutual exploitation and quid pro quo, I suggest Rick Kaplan and his 12 most senior managers be sent to Fort Benning or Fort Bragg to attend any NCO school to learn the fundamentals of leadership. They should each be required to memorize FM22-100 (leadership field manual) and run five miles a day while carrying their laptops at high port arms.