NEWS YOU CAN USE | 2004-04-03

So how can you use all this when you deal with the media?

First of all you must study the Baghdad Bar culture of the media with the same thoroughness that a cultural anthropologist would study a primitive culture in Papua-New Guinea.

You are going to do the reporter's writing for him, so it must fit into the Baghdad Bar Culture.

You give the reporter the history that fits, as I said, so he can make his story sound like history in the making. It will all be news to him, but you will both pretend he knows it and sees how it all fits the way you say it does.

More important, you write the words you can see in the newspaper. When you write a press release, you are doing the reporter's work for him.

I got on the front page of the New York Times by doing that. A reporter was doing a story on young Reagan appointees in 1981. He came to me and I gave him quotes he could not resist using. In fact, my quotes got his story on the front page. He had a picture of me with a file behind me that had a "Bureaucrat and proud of It" bumper sticker on it, exactly what you would not expect a Reagan appointee to have. My point was that with the right policies, bureaucrats can be proud of what they do.

The problem is that he was doing a report on YOUNG appointees and I was turning 40. But the stuff I gave him was just too good to exclude so he left my age out.