Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Public Relations Coup In The Making

Stop it. Stop it right now.

The Washington Post's Kristian Coates Ulrichsen starts strong with "The unexplained disappearance and presumed killing of Jamal Khashoggi brings attention to the security crackdown in Saudi Arabia since Mohammed bin Salman (“MBS”) became crown prince in June 2017. "

But then she refers to "The ruling circle around MBS"  and the "roundup of dozens of influential business executives and ruling-family members by MBS."  She notes "Khashoggi’s presence in Washington represented a credible counter to the image presented by MBS."  However, "The entourage around the prince invested heavily in burnishing MBS’s credentials with the Trump White House as it took office"

We learn about both "the war in Yemen and the blockade of Qatar, both associated closely with MBS," as well as "the time of mounting questioning of MBS’s approach to domestic and international policymaking." Ulrichsen speaks of the slow "buildup of opposition to MBS’s many other mistimed ventures" and "the pressure on Saudi Arabia and MBS, in particular."

Further, "the White House’s closeness to MBS has been controversial as the crown prince has made one mistake after another and has delivered little result" while "King Salman bin Abdul Aziz overrode MBS," sympathetic to the Israeli cause.

That would be eight(8) references to "MBS." Distressingly, however, Ulrichsen is not alone. David Ignatius' piece in The Washington Post entitled "MBS's rampaging anger will not silencequestions about Jamal Khashoggi" included one reference to "Mohammed bin Salman" and 15 to "MBS." There are two reference to "Mohammed bin Salman" and nine(9)-beyond the headline- to "MBS" in the Columbia Journalism Review's "Reexamining coverage of MBS after Khashoggi's disappearance."

There is even Malcolm Nance(!), who tweeted
Continually referring to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia as "MBS" can soften his image and turn him into an appealing fellow.

The most popular set of initials in the USA is arguably "LBJ," usaually a reference not to the 36th President but to inarguably the greatest player in the NBA, arguably the best player of his generation, and probably one of the three greatest hoopsters ever.

LeBron James is referred to as "LBJ" because he is, well, LeBron James. He neither ordered, nor acquiesced in, the murder of a Saudi journalist and legal resident of the United States. He does not preside over an Islamist dictatorship, nor has he unleashed a powerful bombing campaign slaughtering Yemeni civilians (video from 4/18).

Allowing LeBron James to become"LBJ" has done little damage other than possibly skewing results of the tired talk-radio question "who was better- LeBron James or Michael Jordan? (the correct answer: "Wilt Chamberlain").  But reshaping the image of a mass murderer by changing Mohammed bin Salman into MBS may do so.

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