G-8 rumor control


Geraldine Sealey
June 10, 2004 6:33PM (UTC)

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."

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As for the rumor that President Bush's attempt to convince G-8 allies to send troops to Iraq is a big zero: True!


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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