Osama Videos: The White House extracts full propaganda value out of the Osama Bin Laden putzing video.

Media criticism.
May 9 2011 5:54 PM

The Osama Putz Videos

The White House is happy to spike the football on its own terms.

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Obama's wreath-laying at Ground Zero and his visit to a New York fire station last week was his subtle way of taking a victory lap without being blatant about it, of taking credit for the killing without taking credit for it. As the press noted, Obama gave no big speech in New York and offered just a few remarks. He and his handlers were happy to let the images speak for them.

Of the many differences between the Obama administration and the Bush administration, nobody in Obama's White House would ever allow a "Mission Accomplished" sign to serve as a backdrop for one of his speeches. This administration's attitude toward propaganda is to let the press do the work. When it comes to the putz videos, Obama's strategy is working perfectly.

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I would really like to see the White House release video of the president channel surfing for coverage of himself. While we're on the subject of Bin Laden, best of luck to the organizations that have FOIAed the death photos. What's the best document ever FOIAed? Send your nominations to slate.pressbox@gmail.com and watch my Twitter feed for the best submission. (Email may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

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Correction, May 10, 2011: This article originally stated that one of the videos depicted Osama Bin Laden channel-surfing from a couch. Bin Laden was sitting on either a pillow or a carpet. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.