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John Schulz appears on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer

On NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, COM Dean John Schulz says the U.S. is undermining democracy in Iraq by corrupting the media.

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On December 2, John Schulz, dean of the College of Communication, was a guest on the PBS show NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, discussing accusations that the U.S. government has planted stories in the Iraqi news media. Schulz took on former colleague Retired Army Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters, who has written several books about national security. Schulz was a combat fighter pilot in Vietnam and a professor at the National War College and worked for 21 years as a war correspondent and senior news executive for the Voice of America. Other program guests were U.S. Senator John Warner, General Peter Pace, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and White House spokesman Scott McClellan. The following comments by Schulz are from the transcript program, which appears on the PBS Web site for NewsHour.

“I think simply, even in Political Science 101, we learn that there are three fundamental aspects of what makes a democracy. The first, of course, is a viable and effective press corps. The second, of course, is freedom of speech and other core freedoms, and the third is equal justice under the law. And my problem here is — and a problem for many, I think — is that there is an irony.

“In the very process of attempting to either lead by example or actually instill a democracy, which is the main mission in Iraq as we understand it now, we’re subverting democracy at the very core by subverting the legitimate process of journalism. And this leads to three problems: The first, of course, is the credibility of the journalists in Iraq. The second, of course, is that people there are going to see that journalists can be bought, and the journalists themselves and the editors are going to see well, when the Americans leave, I guess it’s legitimate that you can be bought, and this is the way it goes. And those are major problems, indeed an extreme irony.

“And the last of the ironies is, of course, that dictatorships all over the world have often planted and paid for good press for themselves, not least of them Saddam Hussein before we toppled him.”