Friday, January 06, 2006

NYT, Lincoln Group's Gay Execs?, AEI Slams Gray Lady

If you read the front page New York Times story on Jan. 2 revealing additional propaganda contracts between the Department of Defense and the Lincoln Group, for positive planted news and opinion in the Iraqi press, you may recall the paper highlighted the role Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute in the U.S. media campaigns over in Iraq.

> "I visited Camp Victory and looked over some of their proposals or products and commented on their ideas," Mr. Rubin said in an e-mailed response to questions about his links to Lincoln. "I am not nor have I been an employee of the Lincoln Group. I do not receive a salary from them."

> He added: "Normally, when I travel, I receive reimbursement of expenses including a per diem and/or honorarium." But Mr. Rubin would not comment further on how much in such payments he may have received from Lincoln.

> Mr. Rubin was quoted last month in The New York Times about Lincoln's work for the Pentagon placing articles in Iraqi publications: "I'm not surprised this goes on," he said, without disclosing his work for Lincoln. "Especially in an atmosphere where terrorists and insurgents - replete with oil boom cash - do the same. We need an even playing field, but cannot fight with both hands tied behind our backs."

Rubin is not at all pleased with the Times article and he's written a 2,000 word rebuttal that the Gray Lady has not yet seen fit to print. This is part of his response, as posted on the AEI web site:

> Second, I had no inside knowledge either of the Lincoln Group's newspaper program or, for that matter, of its program rewarding anti-incitement activists, the main subject of the January 2 New York Times's story. I have knowledge of other activities by the Lincoln Group and others. But discretion is important. Analysts are not bloggers or journalists. Their job is to understand what is going on and suggest ways to refine policy; it is not to expose proprietary or confidential information. I did not discuss the Lincoln Group with Shane. I felt the New York Times was fishing. Gerth had been after the Lincoln Group for months and was bitter at being scooped by the Los Angeles Times, something upon which his colleagues have commented. [...]

> Journalists likewise do not like competition. Numerous websites chronicle reporters' inane analysis. A whole website is dedicated to the foibles of the New York Times. Cloud asked me why I went to Camp Victory. I understood his implementation to be that only reporters can cultivate sources and investigate what policy is being made. Journalists like being the gatekeepers of information. They do not like their judgments second-guessed.

While I'm not in agreement with Rubin's hard-right conservative viewpoints related to the Iraqi conflict, there is one thing he says that gives me common ground with him. He's right about journalists covet and enjoy serving as gatekeepers of information. We need look only to the Times and how it held the National Security Agency surveillance story for more than a year before printing it.

On the topic of information gatekeepers, there's something the Times has been remiss in not reporting connected to the Lincoln Group contracts story. The Times has given minimal coverage to the firm's influential 30-year-old vice president Christian Bailey and his murky, quirky history, and his partner, Paige Craig.

This excerpt appeared in the Times on December 12, 2005:

> The two men who ran the small business had no background in public relations or the media, according to associates and a résumé. Before coming to Washington and setting up Lincoln in 2004, Christian Bailey, born in Britain and now 30, had worked briefly in California and New York. Paige Craig, now 31, was a former Marine intelligence officer.

If you want to learn anything of substance on Bailey and his politics from the mainstream media, you won't find it in the Times or any other U.S. newspaper. You've gotta cross the pond for such media reporting.

From the Independent in London:

> Much is unclear about the Lincoln Group, its youthful executive vice-president and his string of previous companies that have left only the faintest paper trail. Indeed, Christian Bailey may not be his real name: a number of student associates said at some point during his four years that he changed his name from Yusefovich - an unlikely surname for someone called Christian.

> The Independent has been unable to confirm this. Yet the details known about Bailey and the contract his company won provide a remarkable insight into the way influence and power operate in Washington. Just two years after arriving here, Bailey, 30, who has a penchant for socialising, has apparently developed contacts both within the Republican establishment and the world of private intelligence.

Hmmm. Maybe he's someone the Times would profile in-depth, to provide readers with a full picture of the contracts story, and scoop the competition?

> Yet it is clear the Lincoln Group and its contract with the Joint Psychological Operations Support Element, part of the Pentagon's Special Operations Command, is inextricably linked with Bailey. He apparently named the company and its various offshoots after Lincoln College, Oxford, from which he graduated in 1997 with an MA in economics and management.

> Many observers have been surprised Bailey, from Surrey, has been awarded such a sizable contract, give that he appears to have no experience in public relations. Indeed, since he moved to the US in the late 1990s, he has spent much of his time in private finance, working in hedge funds in San Francisco and New York.

Oh, no! My gaydar is on high alert because of the San Francisco reference.

> When he moved to Washington, his reputation as a networker continued. He often hosted parties at home and mixed with a set of young, up-and-coming journalists and congressional staffers. He enjoyed a reputation as a good cook, a welcoming host and for making cappuccinos with a machine in his kitchen. He also enjoyed flying: Federal Aviation Administration records show that he is qualified to fly aeroplanes and helicopters.

Hosting parties, a good cook and knows how to make a cappuccino, and has a penchant for aerial adventures? Could be clues to his sexual orientation, which is one matter the Independent doesn't broach.

> By last autumn Bailey had formed another Lincoln subsidiary, called Iraqex, which seems to have formed a partnership with another American PR firm called Rendon, famous in Washington for having promoted Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress.

What an interesting connection between Bailey and Chalabi. If only the paper of record would get around to reporting on it.

> At some point Bailey also went into business with Paige Craig, 31, a former US Marine who served in Iraq and elsewhere. [Bailey and Craig are flatmates in a fashionable part of Washington, close to U Street. The flat is just yards away from Café Saint- Ex, popular with young professionals.]

I don't get the sense that Craig is married to a women, do you? And what is with two extremely wealthy young males sharing an apartment in a predominantly gay DC neighborhood, when they both can easily afford to live alone? They don't exactly need roommates to help pay the rent.

> But the real breakthrough came this summer when Bailey's company, having again changed its name to the Lincoln Group, secured a $100m contract for information and psychological operations. Part of the contract was for placing "faux" news stories in some of the 200 Iraqi-owned newspapers that now exist.

All that money spent, for little benefit in Iraq and continuing page 1 articles in the Times, highly critical of the Lincoln Group. Any of you DC gay boys back there have any dirt to dish on Bailey and Craig? Pass it along, if you do.

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