Friday, May 6, 2011

I do not need to see the shots of a dead bin Laden

I do not want to see the shots of Osama bin Laden shot in the face.

And I do not need to see them.

Surely this is one instance where we should be happy to take the word of the leader of the free world. If Obama puts himself on the line like this, he who has so expertly linked himself with this momentous event and with the full support of CIA, Pentagon and world leaders – who am I to want to see the evidence?
56million Americans watched...
And at the risk of sounding dumb, if Osama has been shot in the face how the hell is Joe Public meant to tell if its him anyway. We’ve only ever seen grainy photos or video of him so what would be gained? Surely to release the photos to appease the public’s baying for blood is completely redundant. I can understand experts wanting to see them, and they have, and they’ve been verified. As has DNA. US citizens, I feel, should be happy with that and on this one issue of such national importance should have a little more faith and trust in their political and intelligence leaders.

And that is to say nothing of the political and societal impact of releasing a graphic photo of someone shot in the face, irrelevant of who it is. That would have to be one of the most disturbing images ever to be seen on Page 1. No thanks, I don’t need to see it.

On somewhat of a tangent, it has been fascinating to watch the events of the last week and look at them from a communications and publicity perspective. Before I go down this path I need to say that I could not be considered by any stretch of the imagination an expert on US politics or world terrorism. I’d say 75% of my knowledge of US politics comes from the second best TV series ever made, West Wing. What I know is from a general, sometimes passing, interest in world events.
Situation Room on West Wing
Watching live Obama’s speech announcing the death of bin Laden, what struck me the most was his incredibly clever use of language to leave no doubt in the public’s eye that it was he, Obama, who had brought down bin Laden. I can’t remember the exact words but it was Obama who lead the investigation, Obama called for clarification, Obama gave the final word, Obama watched it live, Obama has called all key stakeholders. It felt like he said ‘as Commander-in-Chief’ every second sentence. His message was clear. He was the US leader that had found and killed bin Laden. The political capital in this is astronomical.

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘a picture tells a 1000 words’. That picture of the Security Council watching the attack on the compound live will be one of the most historical photos ever taken. To release that shot was absolutely genius! It gave an act of war a distinctly human feel. Hilary in particular stands out to me. What strikes me as odd about it is how did it come about? Do they shoot everything that happens in that room, me thinks not. So someone would have had to make the call that they needed a photographer in the room which automatically gives it a different context for me.

Yes they knew it would be a historic moment, yes I’m sure they were all aware of the inevitable public expectation for detail. As I’m sure they are so used to being photographed they didn’t even notice him in the room. I would just love to know how that conversation took place, and between who, that decided to have a photographer in the room. It’s the publicist in me, but it was an absolute stroke of genius and who ever in Obama’s Communications team suggested it is my new idol (a real-life CJ Cregg).

The only thing I’ve found confusing about this situation from a communications perspective is the changes to the story of what exactly happened in that compound. Knowing the level of scrutiny they would be under from the world’s media and citizens, I am so shocked that every minute detail was not confirmed beyond a doubt before being released to the public. It’s Crisis Management 101. Take a leaf out of Anna Bligh’s book, she was the master during Qld floods. Only speak to what you know as fact. It does not instill the public with confidence when one group says one thing and then someone else says something different. I am genuinely amazed that this happened.

As I said, I’m only a passer-by on this dramatic world event. It’s just that I picked up on a few things that really got me thinking about the communications strategy involved. I’m fascinated by the PR components of this dramatic tale.

And of course I will be reading the inevitable behind-the-scenes book!


Mrs Woog said...

Cool post. Certainly gets me thinking. And no, I do not need to see the photos either x

Mankind said...

what is the number 1 best tv series ever made. please don't tell me Glee beats West Wing.

Brendan said...

I still think he's having drinks somewhere with Elvis.

Etoile Filante said...

The West Wing, I utterly love it. I can't imagine a British version being anywhere near as awesome! xxx

neilsgardiner said...

I found the whole thing eye opening as well.

People rejoicing in the streets and posting lame jokes on Twitter and Facebook about the whole thing made me slightly sick.

I don't care who died, you do NOT celebrate a death like that.

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