WASHINGTON, D.C.—A $12 million, two-year contract to monitor English and Arabic media outlets and to produce public relations materials including talking points and speeches for the U.S. military in Iraq has been awarded to The Lincoln Group.
The Lincoln Group has been at the forefront of the Bush administration’s much-criticized public relations strategy in Iraq, and is perhaps best known for its role in a controversial program that paid Iraqi newspapers to place stories favorable to the coalition forces.
Its latest contract comes as new research indicates just how badly the administration is faring in the battle for hearts and minds: a Program on International Policy Attitudes poll found that about six in 10 Iraqis (61 percent) now say they approve of attacks on U.S. troops, including majorities among both Shiite and Sunni Arabs. That’s up from about 47 percent in January.
Meanwhile, a State Department poll found that two-thirds of Iraqis in Baghdad favor an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces.The Lincoln Group has been selected to monitor a wide range of media including the New York Times, Fox Television and the satellite channel, Al-Arabia. The military will use the information gathered to build support among Iraqi, Arabic, international and U.S. audiences for goals such as destroying the insurgency and helping Iraqis build a democracy, according to contract documents.
“Lincoln Group is proud to be trusted to assist the multinational forces in Iraq with communicating news about their vital work,” spokesman Bill Dixon said in a statement.
In awarding contracts for public relations in Iraq, the Bush administration has eschewed the large, global, mainstream public relations agencies, preferring to work with firms such as Lincoln Group and Washington, D.C.-based Rendon Group—which has a $6.4 million contract with Multi-National Forces-Iraq—with strong Republican connections.