Washington Seeks Hollywood's Advice in War on ISIS

PHOTO: US Secretary of State John Kerry holds a press conference in Tirana on Feb. 14, 2016.Gent ShkullakuAFP/Getty Images
US Secretary of State John Kerry holds a press conference in Tirana on Feb. 14, 2016.

Secretary of State John Kerry visited Los Angeles on Tuesday to meet with a group of Hollywood studio executives for advice on fighting ISIS propaganda.

It was one of Kerry’s last stops on the West Coast after attending a conference of Asian-Pacific leaders with President Obama.

Kerry tweeted out a message after his meeting yesterday, but little is being shared about the discussion itself and what ideas the group might have come up with.

Responding to the constant barrage of online propaganda that inspires jihadists worldwide and fuels recruitment on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria has been a major challenge for the Obama administration in the war against ISIS.

Officials at the State Department sought to justify Kerry's meeting as a brainstorming session for enhancing the U.S. government's own counter-messaging campaign.

“These are the people, I think, widely recognized, who are some of the best communicators out there, and they run a highly profitable industry that is expert at conveying messages to a worldwide audience,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

Among those at the meeting were executives from Warner Bros., DreamWorks Animation, Walt Disney Co., 20th Century Fox, NBCUniversal and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Toner added: “[Secretary Kerry] sought their perspectives and input about how the United States and the rest of the coalition, the anti-Daesh coalition, can better counter the propaganda that is being put forward by ISIL.”

Toner said it was just an introductory meeting and that the State Department would like to have more of them.

“I don't want to say that yesterday, they were inking deals on movies that will come out,” Toner said. “All he was doing was he was taking advantage of the fact that he was there just outside of Hollywood in L.A., where the movie industry exists. He wanted to seek their input on how we can message better.”