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After Osama bin Laden’s Killing, PR Is Another War

by Mike Karfakis on May 6, 2011

Image courtesy of azipaybarah

Once last weekend’s military operation was successfully carried out, President Obama ambled to the podium and told the American public the words it had yearned to hear for almost a decade: "The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden." Obama was calm, nonchalant even.

Then, the media whirlwind began. Since it is now almost a week later, the views on America’s media strategy surrounding the event, well, differ. The Obama administration decided not to publish pictures of Bin Laden, with the president warning it could aggravate tensions and the case could end up in court. Some deem this decision to be a masterful strategy - without pictures, American hatred will not be fueled, Al Qaeda enthusiasts have no fire to further spark their sympathy and anger, and America seems, just, right, with no sense of personal vendetta; only justice.

But others find the strategy to be too wishy-washy. It’s one thing to be initially unsure of the timeline and truth behind news events since nowadays news is tweeted before a word is uttered on CNN, but a very obvious negative of the administration’s decisions in releasing information is the unforeseen amount of unanswered questions and conspiracy theories being thrown into the mix. These questions undoubtedly lead to a presidential statement addressing the issue, which causes the already slightly skeptic public to wonder why he didn’t just say so, or give the information, in the first place. In addition, bin Laden photos may see light of day if news agencies prove the need for pictures under America’s Freedom of Information Act.

Although as of May 6, 2011, Al Qaeda has confirmed the death of Osama bin Laden, we highly doubt any byte of news regarding the event will go unnoticed. Do you think the PR should have been handled differently? What do you think will happen next? We think, at least, not saying “Obama” instead of “Osama” would be a nice start.


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