The White House convened a meeting of Silicon Valley, Madison Avenue and a few entertainment executives on Wednesday with an eye toward finding ways to counter terrorist-network success at using social media.
It followed a meeting last week that Secretary of State John Kerry held with major studio chiefs to talk about a counter-narrative to that of the Islamic State.
CIA director John Brennan was in Los Angeles this week to address the Pacific Council, and he was asked about the whole idea of countering the success that terrorist organizations have had in recruiting in unstable regions. His comments give a hint as to why administration officials have been reaching out to executives in media, including entertainment, in brainstorming what makes for effective messaging.
“You would think that the United States, which is the leader in communication and entertainment and media, that we would be far ahead of our adversaries in representing the truth and the American way,” Brennan said at the event, held at the California Club. “The truth is elusive at times, and there is a lot of debate about what it is that we are doing.”
He added, “We all know that politics tends to seep in to that national discourse and narrative in terms what we are doing, and the rightness of the policy or whatever else. That tends to undermine that message and public diplomacy, as they are able to point to a number of individuals who really are quite critical of what it is the United States as a whole, the government, the administration is doing. But it is something that I think we as a country need to come to grips with because there is a lot of misrepresentation, and I do agree that messaging is so important.”
He added that what has to be considered is how terrorist organizations have “been able to exploit that social-media environment to propagate, to recruit, to have their narrative carry the day with so many individuals around the globe.”
“There are legal considerations in terms of what the [U.S.] government can do, in terms of pushing things out,” he added. “Sometimes I think we shy away from being more aggressive in this area, but I certainly agree with what it is we need to do on the world stage.”
Kerry tapped entertainment executives for ideas in part because of the studios’ success in exporting movies and TV shows overseas.