By Greg Mitchell
Editor & Publisher
May 10, 2008
NEW YORK As noted in previous E&P articles, the shocking New York Times article last month by David Barstow exposing the Pentagon's use of retired military officers to carry their talking points on the Iraq war in the media has received relatively little follow-up--or response--from the news outlets involved, principally TV and cable networks. One popular blogger who has kept the issue alive is Salon's Glenn Greenwald.
The Pentagon, earlier this week, released dozens of documents that Barstow forced out by his inquiries, including transcripts of some of the meetings with the "media generals" (who are further compromised by working for companies with defense contracts) and even some audio. Greenwald, yesterday and today, has been going through some of it and offering some startling quotes about the collaboration.
Today, he quotes at length from one January 2005 internal document, which he then summarizes this way: "So the Pentagon would maintain a team of 'military analysts' who reliably 'carry their water' -- yet who were presented as independent analysts by the television and cable networks. By feeding only those pro-Government sources key information and giving them access -- even before responding to the press -- only those handpicked analysts would be valuable to the networks, and that, in turn, would ensure that only pro-Government sources were heard from.
"Meanwhile, the 'less reliably friendly' ones -- frozen out by the Pentagon -- would be 'weeded out' by the networks. The pro-Government military analysts would do what they were told because the Pentagon was 'their bread and butter.' These Pentagon-controlled analysts were used by the networks not only to comment on military matters -- and to do so almost always unchallenged -- but also even to shape and mold the networks' coverage choices.
"Even a casual review of the DoD's documents leaves no doubt that this is exactly how the program worked. The military analysts most commonly used by MSNBC, CNN, Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC routinely received instructions about what to say in their appearances from the Pentagon."
Greenwald, a constitutional lawyer, believes this all points to "an illegal covert domestic propaganda program."
And there's much, much more, via Greenwald at:
Greg Mitchell's new book is closely related to this subject. It is titled, "So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq."