Military analysts and the public
by Sam Levenback, Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 02:05:29 PM EDT
This morning's New York Times features a disturbing article that untangles the role of military analysts appearing on network and cable television. These analysts are presented as neutral experts, but most are, in fact, taking their talking points directly from the Department of Defense. Additionally, plenty of these pundits also serve as lobbyists and consultants who crave access to the Pentagon for their business interests. The conflict of interest is pretty clear cut.
I'm not even going to voice any outrage towards the Administration. It's hardly shocking. Personally, I think the real thrust of this story is the utter incompetence of cable news and the networks. This isn't a case of shifty ideological bias or yielding to administration bullying. It's old-fashioned incompetence.
In memos, emails, and transcriptsposted by The New York Times, we see a coordinated effort to dupe television producers and talking heads. Chris Matthews, Wolf Blitzer, and Bill O'Reilly are all mentioned by name. It's absolutely humiliating. These are supposed to be journalists, and yet they've been consistently duped by their own military analysts, their own employees. They've been paying experts to come on their shows and give misleading commentary.
"CNN, for example, said it was unaware for nearly three years that one of its main military analysts, General Marks, was deeply involved in the business of seeking government contracts, including contracts related to Iraq. General Marks was hired by CNN in 2004, about the time he took a management position at McNeil Technologies, where his job was to pursue military and intelligence contracts. As required, General Marks disclosed that he received income from McNeil Technologies. But the disclosure form did not require him to describe what his job entailed, and CNN acknowledges it failed to do additional vetting. "We did not ask Mr. Marks the follow-up questions we should have," CNN said in a written statement. In an interview, General Marks said it was no secret at CNN that his job at McNeil Technologies was about winning contracts. "I mean, that's what McNeil does," he said."
It's just so embarrassing. And yet it's also another sad chapter in the media's complete failure to deal equitably and honestly with the Bush Administration.