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Can you trust a television military analyst?
April 19, 2008 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Television military analysts are wooed, courted, and privileged by the Pentagon. An in-depth investigative report by the New York Times uncovers logrolling, shilling, touting, back-scratching, and just plain bias on the part of the experts that television networks put on the air to talk about the war. Some of them appear to be as good as owned by the Defense Department. "The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air. Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves."
posted by Mo Nickels (37 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

The Big Lie. Multiplied and Diversified. Very bad.
posted by kozad at 6:36 PM on April 19, 2008

At this stage in the game, why would this be a surprise to anyone?

The goddamn noisy box lies. We know that, because we paid them to lie to us, so we could live blissfully ignorant lives.
posted by FormlessOne at 6:50 PM on April 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'm shocked, SHOCKED to learn that these former generals and military think tank boys are paid to spin their pro-Pentagon punditry!
posted by briank at 6:59 PM on April 19, 2008

perpetual outrage fatigued
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 7:13 PM on April 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Is this some kind of dress-rehearsal for the looming Wesley Clark smackdown?
posted by Dizzy at 7:19 PM on April 19, 2008

Thanks for this, Mo Nickels. Jaded outrage fatigue aside, it's nice to have specific examples of the financial incentives behind the goddamn noisy box's love affair with war.
posted by mediareport at 7:24 PM on April 19, 2008

The graphic currently on the NYT front page makes it clear how important a prominent forehead is to being credibly manly.
posted by gsteff at 7:26 PM on April 19, 2008

This from the rag that published Judith Miller's breathless stenography for years before timidly, and mildly, apologizing for it ?

This would be my suprised font.

More seriously, your liberal media. Still not liberal. (props to atrios)
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:32 PM on April 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.


Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without asking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 7:35 PM on April 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

I really wish people wouldn't casually throw around references to Hitler's "Big Lie". He was talking about the Jews, not advocating a strategy.
posted by empath at 7:41 PM on April 19, 2008

I really wish people wouldn't casually throw around references to Hitler's "Big Lie". He was talking about the Jews, not advocating a strategy.
posted by empath at 10:41 PM on April 19 [+] [!]

I thought he was talking about the old lie "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori".
posted by dazed_one at 7:52 PM on April 19, 2008

I really wish people wouldn't casually throw around references to Hitler's "Big Lie". He was talking about the Jews, not advocating a strategy.

On the other hand, this was Hitler's propaganda technique of choice. Folks, it's really not so outrageous or "casual" to make metaphorical connections between fascist Germany and Bush-era United States, where the comparison applies.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:26 PM on April 19, 2008 [3 favorites]

For those of us not thoroughly soaked in US history maybe I should point out that the above quote from [expletive deleted] is taken from Eisenhowers' farewell address. It shouldn't really come as a surprise that retired General, Admirals etc continue their careers as shills for the defense industry. What is perhaps more worth consideration is that they are seldom introduced as "General Hardchin" who represents the "Instant Death Laser Corp" or more insiduously "Safety for Citizens" or somesuch with no further explanation or little counter argument. Maybe it would be interesting to see how much influence the militrary industrial complex has or doesn't have over the advertisers.
posted by adamvasco at 12:59 AM on April 20, 2008

On the other hand, this was Hitler's propaganda technique of choice. Folks, it's really not so outrageous or "casual" to make metaphorical connections between fascist Germany and Bush-era United States, where the comparison applies.

Empath's point wasn't that you are drawing a comparison between Bush and Hitler, but rather that you are drawing a comparison between Bush and The Jews, specifically Hitler's conception/characterization of the Jews. It's kind of a fascinating point, although I didn't even know "The Big Lie" was a concept Hitler came up with.

I don't personally think we should get rid of the term though, since it really does explain how bush operates well, you know we don't get rid of the Olympic Torch or VW Beetles just because Hitler was instrumental in their creation.
posted by delmoi at 1:40 AM on April 20, 2008

I wish the article could also explain why there is always a crowd of quick commenters racing to tell us how jaded they are whenever these threads come up? It's as if there is some sort of bizarro thread derailing quick response team dedicated to lowering the quality of these threads.
posted by srboisvert at 3:33 AM on April 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

when news articles revealed that troops in Iraq were dying because of inadequate body armor, a senior Pentagon official wrote to his colleagues: “I think our analysts — properly armed — can push back in that arena.”

Yeah, it's a good thing those analysts are properly armed before they go into battle.
posted by creasy boy at 4:35 AM on April 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

empath I really wish people wouldn't casually throw around references to Hitler's "Big Lie". He was talking about the Jews, not advocating a strategy.

This comes down to how sincere Adolf Hitler was in his accusations against the Jews, and that's a question that may not be answerable by anyone else (and therefore, by anyone at all). Anything less than 100% sincere, and him accusing the Jews of the Big Lie would be itself a use of the Big Lie technique, I think.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:48 AM on April 20, 2008

Outrage fatigue fatigue.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:06 AM on April 20, 2008

posted by Dizzy at 5:59 AM on April 20, 2008

This is good news. It's only a matter of time now before they tap War Nerd (NSFW) for advice.
posted by wobh at 6:42 AM on April 20, 2008

New York Times Important News Story™ reveals facts that most reasonable had already assumed were true when the thing was going on.

If I had a dime for every time this happened, I'd be able to start my own hedge fund.
posted by psmealey at 8:54 AM on April 20, 2008

It's as if there is some sort of bizarro thread derailing quick response team dedicated to lowering the quality of these threads.

In fairness srboisvert, this story, while putting some important facts on display, is another in a very long series of deceptions by the Bush Administration that can no longer be a surprise to anyone. Yes, it's worthwhile reading the article posted in the FPP, but what more can actually be said about it? Worse than that, the press betrays its own complicity (from l'Affaire Plame on down) by publishing such stories that are laced with faux incredulity. If they had been keeping their eye on the ball, y'know, when this kind of thing was actually going on, there's at least some chance that history might have taken a different turn.

Instead the most vocal of us at the time were dismissed and marginalized, and NOW the press says, oh by the way, you were right? Better late than never I guess, but the damage has been done, and I do not believe it can be repaired.
posted by psmealey at 9:00 AM on April 20, 2008

Amusingly, the NYTimes is revealing news that it had already revealed in 2003. The difference now is that they have actual evidence of the malfeasance in the form of government documents.

One thing I find disturbing is that even though they are exposing this scam they still lack the cojones to really name names and call liars liars. While chiding the ex-gens for sucking up for access it seems as though NYTimes still wishes to maintain theirs. The whole article is filled with wonderfully vague pronouns "They" ,"Many Analysts","Some" and on and on.

I wonder if Times will publish the documents they obtained on their website? It would be nice if that happened so that people could actually research specific individuals and look at the web of conflicts of interest.
posted by srboisvert at 9:10 AM on April 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

Really I think the big problem here is the media more than the government. The media, in theory, is independent of the government. No one ordered or forced the news outlets to put these propagandists on tv or in their news pages. As srboisvert points out, it's not like this was a problem that the media hasn't been aware of for years. It's not like it hasn't been known that this administration works over the press all the time. Yet, I can't find the part of the NY Times article that points to why the NY Times kept using these people.

I think that since the 2000 election/supreme court case, these have been politically trying times, where our democracy needed a strong, accurate, and skeptical media. The NY Times, which is far better than anything on tv, responded by misleading the public into war (Judith Miller), putting propagandists in their pages (this article), putting a neocon architect of the war who got everything wrong about the war on their list of paid regular columnists (Kristol). I guess the best thing that can be said, though, is they haven't wasted any ink on the issue of lapel pins. Oh wait (really, 2,950 hits?).
posted by Staggering Jack at 10:58 AM on April 20, 2008

A Guide to 'NYT' Bombshell on Military/Media Propaganda
posted by homunculus at 11:10 AM on April 20, 2008

You speak for me, srboivert. And often the same people who rush in to insist "No news here" are the same people bitching about the inanity of the media. Curious, that. To me, this article represents what any responsible journalistic organization should be doing, in fact the reason for journalism to exist: to look behind the smokescreens at whose hands are operating the levers of power. When the results are mass death, the adoption of ineffective information-gathering techniques like torture by the very people who pose as serious about national security, and the plummeting of America's standing in the global community, I can't imagine a more important occupation for American news-gathering organizations.

Thanks for the link, Mo.
posted by digaman at 11:15 AM on April 20, 2008

Deliciously Ironic in that the NYT has, in the past, been prevented, or forced to postpone printing articleson sensitive subjects by the Pentagon and or feds.
posted by Student of Man at 7:44 PM on April 20, 2008

By prevented or forced to postpone you mean voluntarily choose I think.
posted by srboisvert at 6:22 AM on April 21, 2008

Boot, Podhoretz: Pentagon Propaganda Machine Is No Big Deal
posted by homunculus at 11:31 AM on April 21, 2008

Q&A with the author of the article.
posted by jourman2 at 1:25 AM on April 22, 2008

In other news: VA Conceals Vet Suicide Figures From CBS To Downplay ‘Epidemic In Suicide’
posted by homunculus at 12:47 PM on April 22, 2008

What the Family Would Let You See, the Pentagon Obstructs
posted by homunculus at 1:02 PM on April 24, 2008

The Real Matrix: The Pentagon Invades Your Life
posted by homunculus at 1:23 PM on April 24, 2008

Fifth Anniversary of 'Mission Accomplished' Is Nearly Here
posted by homunculus at 9:52 AM on April 30, 2008

Investigate the Pentagon Pundit Project - and the New York Times - Yourself, Online
posted by homunculus at 11:41 PM on May 6, 2008

Identification of ex-Guantanamo suicide bomber unleashes Pentagon propaganda
posted by homunculus at 12:33 PM on May 11, 2008

Fmr. Military Intelligence Officer Reveals US Listed Palestine Hotel in Baghdad as Target Prior to Killing of Two Journalists in 2003
posted by homunculus at 9:49 AM on May 13, 2008

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