the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

August 8, 2005

The “Truth Tour” Will Out


Like me, you may have recalled hearing about a “Truth Tour” pulled together to bypass the MSM, and finally hear the Good News coming out of Iraq. I had wondered what had become of them, and why I still hadn’t heard the Good News. Now I think I understand why.

The “Truth Tour” was a group of right-wing radio hosts and personalities who toured Iraqi Army bases July 7 to July 17. The Tour was organized by a group called Move America Forward co-chaired by Melanie Morgan and Howard Kaloogian: (

The group of conservative talkers, led by Melanie Morgan, the co-host of a morning show on KSFO-AM in San Francisco and co-founder of MAF, also included Mark Williams of KFBK in Sacramento, Martha Zoller of WDUN in Atlanta, Michael Graham of WMAL in Washington, Brad Maaske of KMJ in Fresno, and the executive producer of the film, “Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Murderous Reign of Saddam Hussein,” and Buzz Patterson of the syndicated RightTalk radio.

You may recall that upon returning from the Truth Tour, Michael Graham’s world view was so enriched that he wrote: “We are at war with a terrorist organization named Islam.” Graham was promptly suspended by WMAL here in Washington. Mr. Graham is the author of Redneck Nation, which I’m guessing is his autobiography.

It’s been 2 or 3 weeks since the “Truth Tour” has been back from Iraq. When are we going to hear all the good news? Did the Iraqis thank the radio folks for invading their country? Did the Iraqis give the wingers enough flowers and candy so they had leftovers to bring home to Paul Wolfowitz?

Apparently no. This recent Hardball interview may be telling, if you can get past Morgan’s grating style. When asked if the insurgents will eventually win, Morgan says: “I’m not a psychic.”

The piece linked to above argues that Move America Forward is really a front organization for right-wing PR firm Russo Marsh & Rogers. RM&G are responsible for the campaign to keep Fahrenheit 911 being shown in theaters. They are also responsible for the “I Heart Gitmo” campaign, among other family-friendly ventures.

If any of this has sounded a bit odd so far, this is even weirder. In their lede to Press Junket to ‘’Happy Iraq'’ - Journalism or Propaganda? SpinWatch says:

John Kasich, subsituting for vacationing Bill O’Reilly last night, discussed the upcoming “Truth Tour,” the second such outing being sponsored by the newly created Office of Media Outreach, a taxpayer-funded publicity arm of the Department of Defense.

Here’s the thing: I haven’t been able to independently verify a DOD Office of Media Outreach. I’m pretty sure if the office exists, and it supported the “Truth Tour” this would be news. Is this for real? Did SpinWatch just get the name wrong? Is this the Office of Strategic Influence lightly recycled?


  1. Michael Graham’s suspension wasn’t that prompt, because there was enough time for me to hear about the offense without hearing about any punishment. The last I’d heard was this Post story, in which the station was still saying things like this:

    “Remember that this is talk radio. We don’t do the dainty minuet of the newspaper editorial page. It’s not ‘Washington Week in Review.’ It depends on pungent statements to drive it. Michael is rattling the cage. It’s designed to start and further a conversation, and it has certainly done that.”

    And Graham had a statement up on the WMAL website that was only making things worse.

    So it’s good to hear that he’s been suspended. I see the substitute has things well in hand on the insulting-minorities front.

    Keith4:05 pm

  2. Certainly, WMAL’s could have been more prompt. The point I was trying to make with the Graham business is that two weeks after coming back from Iraq he makes these controversial comments.

    It’s as if visiting Iraq made him more of a chest-thudding keyboard warrior than he was already.

    I’ll add that the “cage rattling” quote is tone deaf. This is just the kind of garbage that an insurgency will use to justify violence.

    —AltHippo • 4:52 pm

  3. I hadn’t paid any attention to WMAL since many years when it was just an ordinary local station, so I wasn’t aware of what it’s apparently become. I guess there’s really no such thing as regular news-talk stations anymore. They all transformed themselves into Foxesque, Limbauvian propaganga machines that produce stuff like this citizen scoreboard showing WMAL beating the liberals. I’m not surprised the Post article you linked says “station sources say Graham is unlikely to be fired and will be back on the air after the current controversy cools down.”

    The DoD Office of Media Outreach does sound newsworthy. Why hasn’t anyone picked up on it?

    Keith10:34 pm

  4. “The DoD Office of Media Outreach does sound newsworthy. Why hasn’t anyone picked up on it?”

    Good question. As far as I can tell this reference only comes up in stories relating to what I’ve assumed to be left-wing critics of the “Truth Tour.”

    There are agencies in the State Department that kinda sorta have names like Media Outreach. That’s a long ways from what the sources cite, however. And you have to overlook that State is completely different from DOD.

    I think we need to get back to to confirm that there is a DOD office of Media Outreach. Do you have any familiarity with them? How about SpinWatch?

    —AltHippo • 12:22 am, August 9

  5. Commenter littlesky on TPMCafe points to an April article in Billboard Radio Monitor (I see now that some of it was quoted in the SpinWatch article) that includes this:

    Lynette Ebberts, director of the DoD’s Media Outreach office tells Billboard Radio Monitor the hosts left on Monday, April 18 and are due back April 26. “This is the first time we’ve done a trip like this,” Ebberts told Monitor, “and we’ve just had a lot of interest and calls [from radio hosts] who said they wanted to go.” She put the number of other hosts who have expressed interest on a future trip at about 15.

    Ebberts said there was “no selection process” initiated by the Defense Department but that the idea for the trip began with a conversation initiated by her boss, Capt. Roxie Merritt, and Ellen Ratner of the Talk Radio News Service.

    There is no date set for a second radio-host trip, although Ebberts said it is possible that another sojourn could be mounted later this year. The next trip planned targets regional TV staff and personalities; that trip will leave in June and will stay in Afghanistan.

    It looks like Ebberts’s title is “director of media outreach” or “director, media outreach” but that she doesn’t necessarily work for an Office of Media Outreach. She is (or was) in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), according to this directory.

    Oh, and congratulations on making the TPMCafe front page once again!

    Keith8:40 am, August 9

  6. Lynette Ebberts returned my email confirming that there is an office of Media Outreach, and she is the director.

    The office openned in November after the election, which is why it doesn’t have a website.

    She’s out of town right now, but I may be able to get more info next Monday.

    —AltHippo • 12:57 pm, August 10

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