The White House took its trademark message control tactics to the G-8 summit this week at Sea Island, Ga. Not risking any free-wheeling conversations between journalists and security personnel, the administration printed up cards for thousands of security guards titled: "G-8 Media Guidance." The cards read: "If you are approached by a reporter during the G-8 summit, you should (1) Notify your chain of command and/or (2) Call the Joint Information Center." Left off the instructions: Do not panic.
Just in case, the card does include a panic button of sorts, a fall-back hotline number for a special office called "Rumor Control." On the other end of the Rumor Control hotline is a government public affairs officer. Are rumors really that rampant at G-8 summits? Rumor Control reported two misconceptions this week, according to the Washington Post: "On Sunday, word spread that there was a meningitis outbreak in the convention center here where reporters work. 'There was no meningitis,' the rumor-control specialist said, citing a mistaken diagnosis. On Monday, there was a rumor that United Parcel Service uniforms were being sold on eBay and could be used to breach security at the summit. 'Not true,' rumor control reports."
As for the rumor that President Bush's attempt to convince G-8 allies to send troops to Iraq is a big zero: True!