Recently, Keith Olbermann of MSNBC talked about this topic on his Countdown show in a segment called the Nexus of Politics and Terror. A transcript can be found here. Olbermann presented 10 instances where it can be construed that the current administration amplified terror warnings and/or announced that they foiled a terrorist plot very soon after a news story that has the potential to damage the reputation of the Bush administration comes out. You can watch that segment here.
A scientific study can be done on this. The question is whether the government can reasonably be said to announce terror warnings when the mainstream newsmedia present stories that are critical of the government and its War on Terror policies. There are all sorts of variables to consider, such as how long is the “response time” between the negative publicity and the government’s counter publicity. Also, what constitutes “negative publicity” and “government counter publicity?” And if we can arrive at suitable definitions of these terms, how do we measure the correlation between negative publicity and government response?
I think it is worthwhile to explore these issues, whether to debunk them as some form conspiracy theory, to substantiate to some degree the assertions made by Olbermann, or to raise new questions regarding the political uses of fear.