One difference between PR and news is that in PR you try to put the big lie at the beginning o fthe piece, and in news, you put it at the end. A very fine example of this technique came in this morning’s Daily Telegraph report on US Lt General Willaim Boykin, who is in charge of the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
“Gen Boykin has repeatedly told Christian groups and prayer meetings that President George W Bush was chosen by God to lead the global fight against Satan.
He told one gathering: ‘Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. He’s in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this.’
In January, he told Baptists in Florida about a victory over a Muslim warlord in Somalia, who had boasted that Allah would protect him from American capture. ‘I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real god and his was an idol,’ Gen Boykin said.
He also emerged from the conflict with a photograph of the Somalian capital Mogadishu bearing a strange dark mark. He has said this showed ‘the principalities of darkness. . . a demonic presence in that city that God revealed to me as the enemy’.”
Several paragraphs of balancing flannel follow; then comes the kicker at the end.
“Gen Boykin told NBC that he would be curtailing his speeches to religious groups. ‘I don’t want to come across as a Right-wing radical,’ he said.”
Let’s just terminate that thought with extreme prejudice, then. No. That’s wrong. Let’s terminate it with extreme moderation.