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Sunday, April 20, 2008


Pentagon propaganda

The New York Times has a major exposé today on the extent to which the Pentagon used network "military analysts" to get its point of view across to the American people, less euphemistically described as propagandizing the American people. You can read the article, it's full of interesting details.

But there are a few things that have to be noted about the article. First, it's great, but like the Democrats' "opposition" to the war in Iraq, it comes about six years too late. If the Times wanted to make sure the American public was getting a "fair and balanced" picture of the war in Iraq, both before the invasion (with respect to the "justification" for the war) and after the invasion (with respect to the "success" of the effort, the "handful of rotten apples" at Abu Ghraib, etc.), it needed to do a better job itself at the time, not now.

Second, until you get to the final few paragraphs (of an article that takes 11 pages on the web!), you don't hear a word about the networks themselves. It's all from the point of view of "the Pentagon did this," "the Pentagon manipulated that." Which is certainly newsworthy, but the fact is, it was the networks who accepted this kind of "analysis," and who from the get-go acted as if the operative word in "military analyst" was "military" and not "analyst." Someone like Norman Solomon has every bit as much to say (and one heck of a lot more insight) about the "war effort" than any of the generals you could see on CNN or FOX or MSNBC etc., but you never saw him (or anyone like him) on any of those channels (and not just FOX) as any kind of analyst, much less as a "military analyst."

And even those final paragraphs of "network reaction," which didn't run in the print edition of the paper I read (and, for all I know the Times itself), don't shed any real light on that central question, only on the question of did the networks know of and disclose conflicts of interest their analysts had (like serving on the boards of defense companies profiting from the war they were "analyzing").

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