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NYTimes: Bush’s Military Trojan Horse Influences War News

The Sunday New York Times has an expose about how the Bush administration recruits retired military generals to analyze the Iraq war for TV and other news outlets. However, never mentioned is this little fact:

several dozen … military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized. 

And here is the news dagger:

Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks. …

…members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.

A few expressed regret for participating in what they regarded as an effort to dupe the American public with propaganda dressed as independent military analysis.

“It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,’ ” Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, said.

After allowing Pentagon officials to deny the relationship, the Times reporter David Barstow writes:

Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who could be counted on to deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions.”

Many of these analyists showed up on Fox, but were almost everywhere else too:

Two of NBC’s most prominent analysts, Barry R. McCaffrey and the late Wayne A. Downing, were on the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, an advocacy group created with White House encouragement in 2002 to help make the case for ousting Saddam Hussein. Both men also had their own consulting firms and sat on the boards of major military contractors.

All of this was a covert operation, unbeknown to the news outlets, indeed:

The access came with a condition. Participants were instructed not to quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon.

So we have absolutely terrible vetting by the TV and radio news, with military industrial complex shills posing as unbiased analysts, but alas we have a brilliant story by the New York Times exposing how the news media were used to spread pro administration propaganda and they did.

Of course, we the people got a distorted view of the war and in a democracy that is not a very good thing.


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