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Michael Shaw

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Reading the Pictures: Framing Osama (and Obama)

Posted: 05/09/11 10:02 AM ET

Bin Laden rehearsing DoD

Now that the perceptual war surrounding the bin Laden operation has fully transitioned to the post-raid stage, I wanted to look at the first of two images the DoD has strategically used to undermine "the evil one." This screenshot, which I imagine most of you have already seen, is an outtake extracted from the trove of video captured in Abbottabad showcasing bin Laden rehearsing, and apparently flubbing a line.

If the point here is that bin Laden was overly scripted -- as well as overly concerned with his image, given the fact his beard is jet black while in other time-related pics and vids it is grey -- I give the DoD and the White House about a D- for the effort. Not only does the DoD know too well today's wars are fought as much on TV by celebrity brands (basic basic production techniques being standard-operating-procedure), so does the public.

Obama photo Staged bin Laden Announcement

That being the case -- and given the fact Obama re-staged the walk-out and first 30 seconds of his announcement of bin Laden's death for still cameras after he finished the live announcement on TV, this particular rip on bin Laden is a FAIL. (It's also a little funny, by the way, that the DoD would be ripping bin Laden for being a TV star after the GOP spent months attacking the charismatic, but then fresh-faced candidate Obama back in '08 as "The Celebrity," even likening him to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton).

Let me just be clear. I'm not ripping the DoD for propaganda, I get that is a major part of their business. What I'm ripping them for is weak propaganda, each failed effort having the result of undermining the effective stuff.

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(photo 1: U.S. Department of Defense via  Denver Post caption: Osama bin Laden speaks in an undated image taken from videos seized by Navy SEALs in last weekend's raid and released Saturday. photo2 : Jason Reed/Reuters)

 

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