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Sunday, February 15, 1998
By Paul Ford
The Coming War
I feel quite distant from the coming war. Many of them are going to die, while we stay warm, well fed, and medicated.
Last week, the Pentagon met with major news outlets, to discuss manners of coverage. The conversation must have been chilling.
Pentagon Official: What we want is not too much burning children.
ABC: We can probably do non-burning children, but we'll want a little human interest, a dead Iraqi village, agonized American soldiers realizing they've killed infants. Not showing the babies, of course.
Pentagon Official: As long as no dead kids are shown. We're serious about that. All the way from the top, that comes.
PBS: I'll go along, as long as we get interviews with soldiers where they cry about their missions.
Pentagon Official: I'll take that under consideration. Do we want to talk about dominant themes during this meeting?
CNN: Can you bomb a mosque? We could use that footage.
Pentagon Official: No. We've got a military installation hidden in a shopping center that we're going to try out a C-34 missile on.
CNN: Sure, just as good. We've worked on the graphics for the cutaways. Want to see?
Pentagon Official: Sure.
CNN: Okay, check out the video. We fade in to a rippling flag with "Conflict in the Gulf" superimposed. James Earl Jones says "Conflict...in the Gulf."
Pentagon Official: What's that space in the lower right corner?
CNN: Space for sponsor placement.
Pentagon Official: Guess it would be odd timing for Army recruitment ads, huh?
CNN: (Slyly.) Might be the best time.
Pentagon Official: I need to talk to Pentagon Marketing, but we might call you.
NBC: We'd be interested, too.
Pentagon Official: Now, gentlemen, we're going to finish this thing in a few hours, most likely. But if it drags on, can I get a confirmation on one thing?
Pentagon Official: During press briefings, try to get me from the right or the front. I hate my left profile.
CNN: Works for us.
PBS: I'll let the guys at McNeil Lehrer know.
ABC: We're fine with that, sure.
Pentagon Official: All right. I'll inform the President we're on. Please send any other questions through my office.