Alibaba’s Minister of Propaganda

wilkChinese internet company Alibaba is a certified giant whose September IPO raised $25 billion, valuing the firm in the neighborhood of $250 billion. Chairman and founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, has a modest vision for his company: “to build an e-commerce ecosystem that allows consumers and businesses to do all aspects of business online. I want to create one million jobs, change China’s social and economic environment and make it the largest Internet market in the world.”

Jack Ma talks a lot about respect and integrity. As part of the IPO application, Ma wrote of his priorities, “Customers first, employees second, and shareholders third” – which is precisely the opposite of what most American firms consider important. Business reporters have fallen all over themselves to lionize Ma as a transformational leader who wants to make the world a better place.

So it strikes me as profoundly odd that Alibaba would hire Jim Wilkinson to be head of international corporate communications.

Not familiar with Jim Wilkinson? How about Private Jessica Lynch and Corporal Pat Tillman – two unfortunate pawns in Wilkinson’s attempts to white-wash bad news coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan when he was a PR flak in the George W. Bush administration. Holding the title of White House deputy director of communications, a more apt description would have been Minister of Propaganda.

Wilkinson started out working for Republican congressman Dick Armey and acting as spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. It seems Wilkinson’s career path has wended its way through slime ever since. He helped promote the bogus story that Al Gore had said he invented the internet. He worked on the Florida recount after the 2000 election. He was a comms person for the likes of Donald Rumsfeld, Condocheeza Rice and Hank Paulson. A protégé of noted mudslingers Ed Gillespie and Karl Rove, it’s no wonder Wilkinson turned out the way he did.

The sad tales surrounding Jessica Lynch’s phony firefight and subsequent “rescue” from an Iraqi prison, and Tillman’s heroic engagement with the “enemy” which left him dead of gunshot wounds to the head fired by a fellow Army Ranger are well known (I truly hope). In both cases (and probably other lesser-known instances) Wilkinson was there to stage-manage the press and purposefully spread misinformation and outright fabrications. In the case of Lynch, Wilkinson had a hand in delaying her “rescue” a day so that a film crew could be assembled to record the daring mission. This was shortly after the start of the Iraq War which was supposed to be a “cakewalk” where U.S. soldiers would be “greeted as liberators.” But instead of flowers thrown their way, they encountered fierce resistance. The Bush administration needed to change the subject, divert attention. Enter Jim Wilkinson.

Apparently eager to be duped, the Washington Post took the exclusive scoop directly from Wilkinson lock-stock-n-barrel and ran it on the front page, reporting how Private Lynch had bravely shot at the enemy until her gun ran out of ammo. (In fact, she never fired a shot as her poorly maintained rifle jammed.) TV news followed the lead, happy to have live footage of the “rescue” provided by Wilkinson’s crack video team. (In fact, Lynch was not a POW but rather a patient being cared for in an Iraqi hospital; the Iraqi medical team tried to drive her back to the Americans, but abandoned the effort when U.S. troops fired on their ambulance.)

All in all – Diversion Accomplished!

Of course, Wilkinson knew it was impossible to keep the real story from coming out eventually, but as Minister of Propaganda he also knew that by the time reality was restored forgetful Americans would have moved on to something else.

That Alibaba would hire such a miscreant to be a comms executive speaks volumes about their actual intentions on the world’s commercial stage.

Bigger than Walmart, Alibaba will wield enormous power. Be very afraid.

Mario Cuomo – Above the Fold Obit Tribute

In my July 30, 2013 blog titled “Above-the-Fold Candidates” I put forward dozens of people (entertainers, sports figures, politicians, artists) whom I predicted would receive the ultimate tribute in death: an obituary on the front page of the New York Times appearing at the top of the page – above the fold, as they say.

One of those predictions was Mario Cuomo, three-term Governor of New York, and liberal standard-bearer. At his peak, his name was bandied about as a contender for president – and when that became impossible to imagine after he lost a fourth-term re-election bid to dimwit George Pataki, his supporters agitated for Mario to become a Supreme Court Justice.

That didn’t happen either. Mario went on to elder-statesman status, writing books, giving speeches, and doing TV commercials with fellow ex-Dem Gov Ann Richards for Doritos. And then Mario Cuomo died yesterday at age 82.

Yes – his obit appeared above the fold today in which the Times called him an “Eloquent Liberal Beacon.”

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