US News Media's Latest Disgrace By Robert Parry

I thought the article re this issue yesterday on the front page of the NYT (and posted here on 911Blogger) was explosive. Yet not much more than a collective yawn today from America and/or other media outlets . . . much like Bush's recent admittance of torture knowledge+ on ABC. What the hell is going on? Are "we" all that numb? I don't think so . . . But there needs to be a media-driven outrage to jumpstart this . . . . a Catch-22 perhaps but maybe we're getting closer to this changing . . . I think some in the media are getting sick of themselves and their companies . . . Betsy

US News Media's Latest Disgrace

By Robert Parry
April 21, 2008

After prying loose 8,000 pages of Pentagon documents, the New York Times has proven what should have been obvious years ago: the Bush administration manipulated public opinion on the Iraq War, in part, by funneling propaganda through former senior military officers who served as expert analysts on TV news shows.

In 2002-03, these military analysts were ubiquitous on TV justifying the Iraq invasion, and most have remained supportive of the war in the five years since. The Times investigation showed that the analysts were being briefed by the Pentagon on what to say and had undisclosed conflicts of interest via military contracts.

Retired Green Beret Robert S. Bevelacqua, a former Fox News analyst, said the Pentagon treated the retired military officers as puppets: “It was them saying, ‘we need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you.’” [NYT, April 20, 2008]

None of that, of course, should come as any surprise. Where do people think generals and admirals go to work after they retire from the government?

If they play ball with the Pentagon, they get fat salaries serving on corporate boards of military contractors, or they get rich running consultancies that trade on quick access to high-ranking administration officials. If they’re not team players, they’re shut out.

Yet, what may be more troubling, although perhaps no more surprising, is how willingly the U.S. news media let itself be used as a propaganda conduit for the Bush administration regarding the ill-advised invasion of Iraq.

Continued . . .

See also: Greg Mitchell

I agree that this was a big

I agree that this was a big story and that it seems to have made almost no splash.

I also share Parry's belief: "Having spent most of my career on the inside at places such as the Associated Press and Newsweek, it’s been my view for many years that the mainstream U.S. news media can’t be reformed, that it is beyond hope.

"Though there are still good journalists working at major news companies – and the better news outlets do produce some useful information, like Sunday’s story in the Times – the central reality is that corporate journalism is rotten at the core and won't stop spreading the rot throughout the U.S. political process."

One of the reasons (among many) that I support 9/11 truth is this may be the one issue that can bring real change to the media and gov't. 9/11 truth has made great progress and we will make more. The keys to success have been keeping the subject before the public, forums like this one, speaking with friends and others, writing, demonstrating, and just doing whatever you can.

9/11 is crucial because it has a clarity and focus like no other issue. There is no way (ultimately) to spin the physics or the evidence. The numbers have grown from a tiny percentage of the population to a fairly large one in just a few years. It is maddening to see the numbness and ignorance, but heartening to see so much progress being made. Politics is the art of the possible; we are getting close on this one...

JFK on secrecy and the press

collateral damage

On Tuesday, April 18 [2006], some 17 analysts assembled at the Pentagon with Mr. Rumsfeld and General Pace, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

A transcript of that session, never before disclosed, shows a shared determination to marginalize war critics and revive public support for the war.

. . .

"Frankly,” one participant said, “from a military point of view, the penalty, 2,400 brave Americans whom we lost, 3,000 in an hour and 15 minutes, is relative.”

The context is not clear, but this appears to be the logic of "collateral damage," applied to the 9/11 victims.

Three Words...

...Military Industrial Complex!! Isn't this is what Dwight D. Eisenhower alluded to in his farewell speech to OUR Nation? Hmmm......!

Yes . . . Have you seen,

Yes . . . Have you seen, "Why We Fight" . . . the DVD . . . . worthwhile . . .


Action Alert: Pentagon Pundits-Media facilitate Iraq propaganda

Action Alert

Pentagon Pundits
Media facilitate Iraq propaganda effort


A lengthy April 20 New York Times investigation of the Pentagon's program of feeding talking points to military pundits featured on TV newscasts raised disturbing questions about the media's role as a conduit for Pentagon propaganda.

According to the Times, the Pentagon recruited over 75 retired generals to act as "message force multipliers" in support of the Iraq War, receiving special Pentagon briefings and talking points that the analysts would often parrot on national television "even when they suspected the information was false or inflated." The Times even noted that at one 2003 briefing the military pundits were told that "We don't have any hard evidence" about Iraq's illicit weapons-a shocking admission the analysts decided not to share with the public.

The Times also documented that many of the analysts had ties to "military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air"--information that the media outlets did not disclose to viewers. The Times reported that the "analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants." The analysts themselves told the Times that "the networks asked few questions about their outside business interests," and "were only dimly aware" of the special Pentagon briefings they were receiving.

While the Times article focused on the role of the Pentagon, the parties that arguably have most to answer for are the media organizations that relied on these Pentagon analysts and failed to disclose blatant conflicts of interest posed by their ties with defense contractors.

The military analysts' ties with military contractors and pro-war advocacy groups had been documented as far back as 2003, when The Nation (4/21) reported that prominent analysts like NBC's Barry McCaffrey and Wayne Downing were among the pundits who "have ideological or financial stakes in the war. Many hold paid advisory board and executive positions at defense companies and serve as advisers for groups that promoted an invasion of Iraq." As the Nation reported, McCaffrey told MSNBC viewers early in the war, "Thank God for the Abrams tank and... the Bradley fighting vehicle." Unbeknownst to viewers, McCaffrey was sitting on the board of a company called IDT, which received multi-million dollar contracts related to both of those pieces of military hardware.

As the Times story made clear, NBC was hardly the only offender. As a former Pentagon official told the Times, "CNN failed to disclose the fact that, "for nearly three years" on-air military analyst James Marks "was deeply involved in the business of seeking government contracts, including contracts related to Iraq."

This is not to suggest that there are no ethical standards at the networks--at least one military analyst has been sanctioned for inappropriate behavior. In May 2007, retired Army Major General John Batiste was fired as a CBS News consultant for appearing in a VoteVets television ad that criticized George W. Bush. A CBS vice president justified Batiste's firing by invoking standards that seem to have been entirely missing in the case of the retired generals:

"When we hire someone as a consultant, we want them to share their expertise with our viewers. By putting himself front and center in an anti-Bush ad, the viewer might have the feeling that everything he says is anti-Bush. And that doesn't seem like an analytical approach to the issues we want to discuss."

Of course, the Pentagon's propaganda plan would have little effect if not for the enthusiastic participation of the corporate media. As a former Pentagon official told the Times, "We were able to click on every single station and every one of our folks were up there delivering our message."

The Times likened the program to "other administration tactics that subverted traditional journalism," but that would seem to discount the fact that the media have for decades demonstrated a preference for featuring retired military officials in their war coverage, with little if any serious efforts to offer balancing perspectives. The run-up to the Iraq invasion was no different. As former CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan explained (4/20/03):

"I went to the Pentagon myself several times before the war
started and met with important people there and said, for instance, at CNN, 'Here are the generals we're thinking of retaining to advise us on the air and off about the war,' and we got a big thumbs-up on all of them. That was important."

Media executives have historically rationalized their disproportionate reliance on analysts from within the ranks of the military by claiming that they are on the air to share independent expertise about military affairs-something that need not be balanced. As former CNN vice President Frank Sesno stated to journalist Amy Goodman in 1999, "Generals are analysts, and peace activists are advocates."

In light of the fresh documentation that many of the media's military analysts were Pentagon advocates, it is time for the media to rethink this assumption.


Ask the cable and broadcast networks to take action to ensure that the news will no longer serve as a conduit for Pentagon talking points passed off as independent analysis. They could start by expanding the range of independent sources who provide commentary on the war.


ABC News

CBS News
Linda Mason
Senior Vice President, Standards and Special Projects
212 975 8504


FOX News Channel
212 301-3000

NBC News
David McCormick
Vice President, Standards and Policies