Poll: Pentagon's PR Plans

Police officers stand outside the Institute for Animal Health following an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease at a nearby farm in Pirbright, Surrey, United Kingdom, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2007. The investigation into how cattle in Surrey became infected with foot and mouth disease is now focusing on a nearby research laboratory. AP Photo/PA, Jane Mingay

Sometimes you just have to scrap your original plan.

That's what happened on Tuesday when the Pentagon said it would close its Office of Strategic Influence, whose mission was a special type of public relations: namely, giving U.S. military activity a good reputation in foreign countries.

The Pentagon has said it will continue to try to address that goal, but not using the Office of Strategic Influence, which was the target of criticism and reports that it would use false information - allegations the Bush administration has denied.

A new CBS News poll says a public relations department like the one the Pentagon is now closing would not have been much of a success anyway. Six in ten of those surveyed for the poll said that such an office would NOT make much of a difference in how America is viewed overseas, and 33% say it would make a difference.

Opinions on this subject varied little according to the political views of the survey participant.

THE PENTAGON WANTS TO SET UP A PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICE TO SEND OUT INFORMATION TO THE FOREIGN NEWS MEDIA AND U.S. ALLIES. DO YOU THINK THIS WILL OR WILL NOT MAKE MUCH DIFFERENCE IN HOW THE U.S. IS VIEWED BY PEOPLE IN OTHER COUNTRIES?

All Respondents
Will make a difference 33%
Will not make a difference 61%
Don't Know/No Answer 6%

Republicans
Will make a difference 33%
Will not make a difference 60%
Don't Know/No Answer 7%

Democrats
Will make a difference 32%
Will not make a difference 62%
Don't Know/No Answer 6%

Independents
Will make a difference 33%
Will not make a difference 61%
Don't Know/No Answer 6%

Asked whether they would favor spreading false news stories to the foreign press as a way of boosting the U.S. image in other countries, an overwhelming majority of survey participants said they would not approve of such actions.

Again, there were no significant differences between the political parties.

OKAY FOR U.S. TO GIVE OUT DISINFORMATION?

All Respondents
Okay 20%
Not Okay 74%
Don't Know/No Answer 6%

Republicans
Okay 23%
Not Okay 70%
Don't Know/No Answer 7%

Democrats
Okay 22%
Not Okay 72%
Don't Know/No Answer 6%

Independents
Okay 16%
Not Okay 79%
Don't Know/No Answer 5%

This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 861 adults, interviewed by telephone February 24-26, 2002. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. Sampling error for subgroups may be higher.

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.

  • Francie Grace

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