Mission Accomplished

The critics have weighed in on the Zarqawi news:
* greg.org: Wow, if there was any doubt about where the contemporary art market is going, they were dispelled this morning at Christie’s Baghdad, where the US Government paid a record-setting $286 billion–plus $240 for framing–for this portrait of the dead Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
* Billmon: The Pentagon Channel today announced the cancellation of its long-running reality TV series, The Abu Zarqawi Hour, saying tonight’s special-effects extravaganza, in which Keifer Sutherland and a team of secret agents trail the terrorist mastermind to his hideout and call in a massive airstrike, would be the show’s last.

The show originally piloted in 2003, and found a regular place in the Pentagon Channel’s prime-time lineup in February 2004, replacing the widely panned sitcom series Mission Accomplished, now in syndicated reruns on Fox News.

Doubts about the show’s viability deepened in April, after Washington Post TV critic Tom Ricks questioned whether the supposedly spontaneous reality show was actually being scripted by its producers.

Flashback from the history channel:
* Washington Post (April 2006): The U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to internal military documents and officers familiar with the program. The effort has raised his profile in a way that some military intelligence officials believe may have overstated his importance and helped the Bush administration tie the war to the organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

For the past two years, U.S. military leaders have been using Iraqi media and other outlets in Baghdad to publicize Zarqawi’s role in the insurgency. The documents explicitly list the “U.S. Home Audience” as one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign.

Some senior intelligence officers believe Zarqawi’s role may have been overemphasized by the propaganda campaign, which has included leaflets, radio and television broadcasts, Internet postings and at least one leak to an American journalist.

You can believe almost nothing in the media. Ignore it or satirize it, but don’t believe it.