After the United States government assassinated a foreign leader on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo employed the propaganda technique of repeating a word or phrase over and over, even if it's a lie.
Pompeo's boss President Donald Trump often employs the technique on Twitter and in his speeches and MAGA rallies with phrases like "fake news" and "witch hunt."
Pompeo's word of the day regarding the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by United States' drone strike was "de-escalation."
On Friday morning Pompeo tweeted:
"I spoke today with Chinese Politburo Member Yang Jiechi to discuss @realDonaldTrump's decision to eliminate Soleimani in response to imminent threats to American lives. I reiterated our commitment to de-escalation."
I spoke today with Chinese Politburo Member Yang Jiechi to discuss @realDonaldTrump's decision to eliminate Soleima… https://t.co/lnpHG8MKTu— Secretary Pompeo (@Secretary Pompeo)1578051694.0
Eight minutes later, Pompeo used the word again.
The Trump appointed Secretary of State tweeted:
"Discussed with @DominicRaab the recent decision to take defensive action to eliminate Qassem Soleimani. Thankful that our allies recognize the continuing aggressive threats posed by the Iranian Quds Force. The U.S. remains committed to de-escalation."
Discussed with @DominicRaab the recent decision to take defensive action to eliminate Qassem Soleimani. Thankful th… https://t.co/dcJeI4noWw— Secretary Pompeo (@Secretary Pompeo)1578052144.0
Pompeo proceeded to use his word of the day over and over.
Spoke with @HeikoMaas about @realDonaldTrump's decision to take defensive action to eliminate Qassem Soleimani. Ger… https://t.co/drg3StUKY7— Secretary Pompeo (@Secretary Pompeo)1578053281.0
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and I discussed the decisive defensive action @realDonaldTrump employed in B… https://t.co/dw9FaBXEFG— Secretary Pompeo (@Secretary Pompeo)1578070482.0
In my conversation today with @masrour_barzani, we discussed yesterday's defensive action and our commitment to de-… https://t.co/D6wlp9FHrY— Secretary Pompeo (@Secretary Pompeo)1578082997.0
Spoke with #UAE’s @HHShkMohd about @realDonaldTrump's decision to take decisive defensive action to protect U.S. pe… https://t.co/6h7UuN5HMR— Secretary Pompeo (@Secretary Pompeo)1578084877.0
Discussed with Iraqi President Salih @realDonalTrump’s decision to take defensive action to protect U.S. personnel… https://t.co/YvZeT96hf8— Secretary Pompeo (@Secretary Pompeo)1578086171.0
The rest of Pompeo's State Department personnel were repeating the same line in front of the press, like Washington Post correspondent Josh Rogin who shared the scripted propaganda with his Twitter audience.
"In a background briefing today, a senior State Department official said about the strike on Soleimani:"
"'This was an act of de-escalation.'"
"'We are ready to talk with the Iranians.'"
"'They are scurrying for cover.'"
"'The ball is in Iran's court.'"
In a background briefing today, a senior State Department official said about the strike on Soleimani: “This was a… https://t.co/M6bc7QYsPq— Josh Rogin (@Josh Rogin)1578083011.0
For some, the repeated lie is enough to shape their opinion. However for those with information to dispute the lie, the repeated use of it does not sway them.
@joshrogin The official also said: “up is down” “black is white“ “there’s no one behind the curtain” “these are… https://t.co/IhqNcFQRSw— Windhorse (@Windhorse)1578084967.0
Such was the case with Fox News mideast correspondent Trey Yingst. In an on air appearance, Yingst addressed Pompeo's propaganda head on.
Yingst told the hosts of Fox & Friends:
"The U.S. State Department is telling all Americans that are currently inside Iraq to get out of the country immediately. They are saying take a plane, take a car, it doesn't matter: get out of the country as things are deteriorating quickly after the United States last night ordered a drone strike to assassinate the leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Qasem Soleimani."
In regards to Pompeo saying and tweeting "de-escalation" over and over, Yingst stated:
"Let's be very clear about something: the assassination of the most powerful military leader in Iran is not a de-escalating act."
"This is something that the Iranians are saying they are going to get revenge for. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani specifically saying he calls it 'the great nation of Iran is going to get revenge' for what he is calling a heinous crime."
Assassinating Soleimani is not an act of de-escalation. Quite the opposite. https://t.co/rrKPqAN4Xk— Trey Yingst (@Trey Yingst)1578057740.0
@calvindanielsll @TreyYingst There goes his job— James willis (@James willis)1578058330.0
@AnnSchroederWi2 @TreyYingst We had diplomatic relations under the previous administration. Remember. Unbelievable.— Eva Ichkhanian (@Eva Ichkhanian)1578062874.0
Yingst was not alone in his pushback against Pompeo.
@SecPompeo @realDonaldTrump The new position of Minister of Propaganda really suits you Mikie— Susan Doyle (@Susan Doyle)1578064667.0
@SecPompeo @realDonaldTrump Put country first (for once) and brief Congress on this unprecedented unilateral extraj… https://t.co/hURyPqfX4M— Andrew Walker (@Andrew Walker)1578082611.0
@SecPompeo @DominicRaab The US government has a funny way of de-escalating, this was by anyone’s accounts a profess… https://t.co/BJZ6Y0NFSk— razkhanie (@razkhanie)1578057840.0
@LouisRBridgema3 @SecPompeo @realDonaldTrump It's almost like he's tap dancing on the high wire. Pretty dangerous g… https://t.co/FjibfaqoC5— TuneSmith (@TuneSmith)1578054015.0
However if the past is any indicator, despite no one other than Trump supporters being convinced by Pompeo's repeated use of the word "de-escalation," the President and his administration and congressional allies will be using the word to refer to the assassination of Soleimani from now on.
The book This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality is available here.