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Pentagon Manipulating TV Analysts 361

Posted by kdawson
from the media-trojan-horse dept.
gollum123 notes an extensive article from the NYTimes on the evidence that the military, since the time of the buildup to the Iraq war, has been manipulating the military analysts that are ubiquitous on TV and radio news programs, in a protracted campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration's war efforts. "Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity of military analysts on the major networks, is a Pentagon information apparatus... The effort... 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. Several dozen of the military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members, or consultants. 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. ...[M]embers 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."
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Pentagon Manipulating TV Analysts

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  • by mamono (706685) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:33PM (#23164010)
    Did Winston Smith get these articles?
    • by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:07PM (#23166858)

      Sometimes it is enlightening to consider other viewpoints [powerlineblog.com].

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tbannist (230135)
        Not really. What I read indicated the authors of those comments are two idiots who don't understand the meaning of "intentional deception" and "conflict of interest" or are so partisanly blinded that they can't even conceive of wrong doing by their favorite political party.

        It's quite obvious they first considered who was being criticized then determined to make up a reason why it can't possibly be true. Bribing, deceiving, and extorting favorable dis-information out of "independent" military analysts is a
      • by amplt1337 (707922) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @10:43AM (#23172372) Journal
        For those uninclined to read the article hereby linked, it's two quotes. One's from Max Boot, arguing that "everybody does it, so why should the Times complain about this one? Oh yeah, because the Bush administration is bravely trying to break the party line of those Evil Liberal Media Conspirators!" and John Podhoretz saying "Nothing to see here, move along." (A further link points to an article talking about how wrong the Times was to have broken the story about the illegal domestic wiretap program).

        What neither one acknowledges is that, even if it is "no secret that [the whole government] tries to influence their coverage by carefully doling out access," it remains DETRIMENTAL TO DEMOCRACY to do so! A Cheneyesque "So?" from neocon commentators fails to excuse the MSM's faults in not aggressively seeking out the actual truth. It is always relevant that a supposedly "neutral" or "objective" commentator has a financial interest in the events he is interpreting.

        This is a prime example of what Manufacturing Consent was talking about.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:34PM (#23164026) Journal
    As much as the Pentagon and the analysts are scummy liars, the real blame lies with the media outfits. Surely there are enough retired officers and enough military historians to use as a counterpoint. I mean, the news agencies had guys on the ground that, even with the limited access the Army gives them, knew from the beginning the problems with the Pentagon's story.

    Perhaps one cure to this is to report any particular ties that any given "analyst" has to the Pentagon or the Administration; ie. "Retired General Glubby P. Chummy is employed by Kill Them Bastards Inc., a firm with several contracts with the Pentagon".
    • by Jimmy_B (129296) <slashdotNO@SPAMjimrandomh.org> on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:40PM (#23164104) Homepage

      As much as the Pentagon and the analysts are scummy liars, the real blame lies with the media outfits. Surely there are enough retired officers and enough military historians to use as a counterpoint. I mean, the news agencies had guys on the ground that, even with the limited access the Army gives them, knew from the beginning the problems with the Pentagon's story.
      But only the Pentagon's hand-picked people got to see anything. Retired military officers don't get to tour military bases or get briefings from top generals and the Secretary of Defense. Media outlets had to choose between sources who were biased and sources who didn't know anything.
      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:44PM (#23164152) Journal
        I don't think one needs to have detailed information of this sort of a military initiative to be able to determine the larger picture. Certainly there were people leading up to the war and afterward who were making negative analyses. From the very beginning, there were a number of analysts saying outright that the US had brought an insufficient number of forces into Iraq to secure the country after Hussein's fall. They didn't need the details, they knew because they were either experienced commanders or strategic and tactical experts. These sorts of people are trained to make just such analyses based on incomplete information.
        • by tjstork (137384) <todd@bandrowsky.gmail@com> on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:39PM (#23167086) Homepage Journal
          I don't think one needs to have detailed information of this sort of a military initiative to be able to determine the larger picture

          Very true. I knew that we were in trouble in the Iraq war when I saw a ship unload cars of equipment in PA. Rail car after rail car was loaded with battered and broken down HMMVs and other vehicles... everything looked used and beat up...

    • Victoria Clarke was the Pentagon flack that organized this, so as punishment, I shall link to a picture [agonist.org] of her - check out the sweater.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:45PM (#23164166)
      To quote The Clash: "You have the right to free speech, so long as you're not dumb enough to actually try it."

      News media are very careful to keep onside with the Whitehouse, Pentagon etc. If they don't then they get poor treatment from the media relations people. Instead of having their reporters embedded with frontline troops sending home eye (and advertising) catching footage, they get embedded in the transport depot and they get to film grunts washing trucks.

      Instead of getting confirmation for some scoop, the staffers return their call an hour too late, making them miss a deadline.

      For that reason, the news companies keep their reporters in check and fire those that do any true investigation. Look what happened to Peter Arnett: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Arnett [wikipedia.org].

      • by roystgnr (4015) * <roystgnr.ticam@utexas@edu> on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @05:15PM (#23164538) Homepage
        For that reason, the news companies keep their reporters in check and fire those that do any true investigation. Look what happened to Peter Arnett.

        I went to that Wikipedia link expecting to be reminded that Arnett had been fired for criticizing the current Iraq War, and yup, no big surprise, he said something mildly critical on Iraq TV and he got fired for it.

        Then I read on, to the section where his daughter "Elsa married conservative law professor John Yoo."

        Holy crap. Getting fired for criticizing Bush's War, that's one thing... but having Mr. Torture Memos marry your daughter? The Godfather was a freaking amateur; as punishments/threats go, this blows "severed horse's head in your bed" out of the water!
      • Interestingly enough, Arnett's daughter Elsa chose to study journalism, went to Harvard, and is now currently married to John Yoo, Bush's legal counsel who pretty much sanctioned torture by the executive branch.

        It's a small world...
      • It's not so simple (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MarkusQ (450076) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @06:30PM (#23165422) Journal

        News media are very careful to keep onside with the Whitehouse, Pentagon etc.

        I used to think that was the case. But watching over the last twenty years or so I've come to realize that it isn't quite that simple.

        For example, during the Monica Lewinsky hoopla, it seemed you couldn't look at a newspaper or turn on a TV without hearing more than you wanted to know about the story. They certainly weren't trying to stay on Clinton's good side, even though he was very popular at the time.

        Fast forward a decade, and if you keep your eyes peeled you can catch stories like this:

        So it's not quite as simple as you make it sound.

        If a popular president has an extramarital affair, the press shows no fear and shouts it from the rooftops night and day.

        But if the least popular president on record [usatoday.com] (backed by his administration) maintains that he has the inherent authority to kidnap US citizens at will and make them watch while his goons crush their children's testicles, the "free press" covers his butt so well that if you blink you'll miss the story.

        --MarkusQ

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MightyMartian (840721)
          The problem is that Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, let him get away with this. Congress holds the purse strings, and if they wanted to force his hand they need do nothing more than say "Either you stop this now, or tomorrow you're going to have a $1.95 left to fight your war with."

          Trust me, if any President knew that Congress was serious about politically and financially castrating them, they'd backpedal in a hurry.
          • by MarkusQ (450076) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @07:12PM (#23165846) Journal

            The problem is that Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, let him get away with this. Congress holds the purse strings, and if they wanted to force his hand they need do nothing more than say "Either you stop this now, or tomorrow you're going to have a $1.95 left to fight your war with."

            Agreed, they are cutting him as much unjustified slack as the press is, and are arguably even more responsible for the state we're in.

            Sometimes, when I've got my paranoid cranked up past 7 or so, I wonder if the conjunction of the above mentioned claims of power to torture anyone they want combined with the proven ability to eavesdrop on anyone they want without a warrant (a power which we now know they've used on reporters and politicians) work to reduce the collective spine of those that should be standing up and saying "Hey, wait just a cotten picking minute!"

            Perhaps it isn't dereliction of duty so much as rational fear of a powerful and amoral opponent.

            -- MarkusQ

      • Look what happened to Peter Arnett:

        Peter Arnett made stuff up and got busted for it. Operation Tailwind? Yeah, right. He was a self promoting dick who cloaked himself in the false mantle of left wing hero worship to make himself some kind of a martyr. Too many people on the left eat up his peacenik crap and can't see that he just did it to cover his own sorry ass, and those that aren't dedicated lefties just assume that all lefties are that way.
    • by innerweb (721995) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:53PM (#23164276)

      Nah. I place the real blame with the average news consumer who is not at all interested in truth, merely entertainment. Seems many people these days only want an answer for what ails them. A true answer is not needed. Same with the war. The truth was easy to spot before the war, but it was not in demand, so people easily swallowed the lie others offered instead. Can you imagine how the poor average viewer would feel if they saw the true results of their indifference to the realities of htis war before it started. Patriotism indeed!

      Just like the current elections. How much of what is being bantered about is truth? "I will","When I am elected" and other such comments are not truths but are promises. The truths are only in the past and many of those are unfulfilled promises. As easily as this country was sold on an Iraq invasion in spite of all of the evidence to the contrary, it does not say much about the average Joe citizen's desire for truth or real factual news..

      There are publications out there that produce news. Mostly unbiased news. They cost money. They are not free. They are not cheap. Why? Because only a relatively small part of the population is interested in what they have to say. So, they do not get a mass market to sell ads to. They do not get a large distribution to spread costs over. What they do get are people who want to know what is really happening and are willing to pay for that knowledge.

      The media outfits are an entertainment industry. They are paid based upon number of copies sold and ad value based on reader rates. They are not in any way shape or form paid based upon factual news. They are only paid to provide what a large enough market segment wants to make the paper profitable. So, you can blame the media, but you would be asking them to go out of business by providing the cold hard truth to people who do not want it. They Brittany. They want Baseball. They want lots of meaningless stuff.

      InnerWeb

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ArmyOfFun (652320)
      Part of the blame certainly lies with the media organizations who didn't do a good job vetting conflicts of interest when it came to the various officer's business and active DoD ties.

      What concerns me more though is that this was part of a planned and deliberate effort to mislead Americans and shape public opinion.

      I believe the various departments under the executive branch can and should inform the public. They should explain what their actions are and the consequences of those actions are in a fact based
    • not monocausative (Score:5, Insightful)

      by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @05:56PM (#23165038) Homepage Journal
      a wise history professor of mine taught that no problem is monocausative. it's true. putting blame on one single entity and piling on the shame ignores the other contributing factors to the problem, and allows them to continue unabated.

      of course the media outfits share some of the blame, but to say the "real" blame lies with them does not hold the Pentagon, Bush administration, and the American people accountable. They all share the "real" blame, and the ACTUAL people who are lying (aka the generals) get the lion's share of that blame. It's their words first and foremost.

      "the media" isn't one entity. The propaganda machine described in the NYTimes article is primarily for TV News. Standards and practices vary wildly between types of newsmedia. I, like many, hate the jerry-springerization of what has in the past been thought of as "tv news". Fox News is #1 on this list by a mile...it just isn't journalism in any traditional sense. But, it gets high ratings.

      Notice I didn't say "alot of people watch". Ratings are a survey of a (supposedly) representative sample. Neilsen and others do a horrible job of providing information to advertisers about what people actually watch. This is an ancient problem of perception in TV that pre-dates cable, CNN, etc. Ratings in their current incarnation simply do not accurately reflect what people watch and why, and it skews the business decisions at the top of the news companies and for the advertisers.

      Yes, the american people share in this blame. American government was intended to be advanced government. To work well, the electorate has to be on its toes, savvy, and not easily manipulated. Sadly, the opposite is the case (on it's ass, dumb as shit, and very easily manipulated).

      Other posters on this story also say predictable /. stuff like:

      1. "The NYTimes reported it but they are just as bad!!1!!1!1" That's just not the case. The NYtimes answers that criticism directly [nytimes.com] and provides links to prove it. Let's see someone step up and give equal or better counter evidence. Be sure to include links to specific NYTimes articles by generals mentioned in the report, and show how they connect directly with Pentagon propaganda campaigns about the war.

      2. "How is this news, we all know the Bush administration is corrupt and manipulative beyond measure!!!1!!!1!1" The part that makes this news is that WE CAN PROVE IT. The systematic "psy-ops" manipulation of public opinion by the Pentagon is provable in court. That is news.

      TV news has a long way to go. A good first step is to never, ever watch Fox News (unless to mock it), and deride anyone who does. Sure CNN isn't blameless, but Fox News was the main offender.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:35PM (#23164034)
    Soldiers coming back from Iraq are constantly complaining that the war that is being described by the media is not the same one they're experiencing in the field.
  • How very very sad. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anthonys_junk (1110393) * <anthonysjunk&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:35PM (#23164036)
    Bill Hicks was an optimist :-(
  • Ugh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Uncle Focker (1277658) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:37PM (#23164066)
    I hate to state the obvious, but is anyone actually surprised by this? Considering how they were willing to sell the public a whole pack of lies about the war during the buildup I would be more surprised has they not been influencing the stuff these analysts were saying. I think we all remember this absurd statement.

    Well, I don't think it's likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators. I've talked with a lot of Iraqis in the last several months myself, had them to the White House....The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.
    • Re:Ugh (Score:4, Informative)

      by dbIII (701233) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @08:00PM (#23166258)
      There's an answer to this - international news via the net. The vast amount spend on PR to skew things is targetted at the major local news outlets. Minor outlets (eg. PBS) Canadian and overseas news sources are not influenced as much. However part of the unfortunate backlash to this is the PR is pushing Xenophobia to an extent and pretending that it is patriotism instead.

      The sad thing about the above quote is the "lot of Iraqis" was a single man that now appears to be in the pay of Iran.

  • The real surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Palmyst (1065142) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:41PM (#23164108)
    Is that the NYTimes did this analysis and published it. They had been as much a cheerleader for the war as anybody else.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DogDude (805747)

      Is that the NYTimes did this analysis and published it. They had been as much a cheerleader for the war as anybody else.
      Huh? Are you serious? The Murdoch war-mongering propaganda machine is constantly lambasting the Times for being anti-war. The NY Times is one of the last respectable bastions of journalism. Anybody with a brain isn't going to be a cheerleader of this war.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ahabswhale (1189519)

        Huh? Are you serious? The Murdoch war-mongering propaganda machine is constantly lambasting the Times for being anti-war. The NY Times is one of the last respectable bastions of journalism. Anybody with a brain isn't going to be a cheerleader of this war.

        lol...seriously, you must be kidding. The NY Times has become as bad as the rest of them and prior to the war they they were so busy spewing pro-war bullshit and not asking any serious questions.

        People can blame the Pentagon or the Bush administration for BSing the media but the media ate it up hook line and sinker because they wanted to. It's because of the performance of the news organizations prior to the start of the Iraq war that I no longer have any confidence in any of them (including the ones tha

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by graphicsguy (710710)
        Do you know the NY Times hired Bill Kristol? In general I like the Times, but there is no "last respectable bastion of journalism".
      • Re:The real surprise (Score:4, Informative)

        by martin-boundary (547041) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @07:29PM (#23165984)

        Huh? Are you serious? The Murdoch war-mongering propaganda machine is constantly lambasting the Times for being anti-war.
        Uh... you're saying that because the Murdoch guys are saying it, it must be true?

        Don't fall into the logic trap of thinking that, because some people on blogs and in the media say things and echo each other, those things must be true because, why else would they say those things, eh? "Where there's smoke there's fire" etc. This is sometimes called an echo chamber [wikipedia.org].

        It's simply not true that merely saying something makes it a fact, even if lots of people are saying it.

        The NY Times is one of the last respectable bastions of journalism.
        Regarding the Times, try reading up on Judith Miller and Jayson Blair. Also, you might like to regularly read non-American news sources for other points of view (and I don't mean British sources).
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:42PM (#23164118) Homepage Journal
    Have you noticed that none of the corporate mass media outlets that are fundamentally condemned by the research results in that report have talked about it at all, even though the cat is now out of the bag?

    That sound of crickets is the strongest proof that the corporate mass media is totally broken, and far worse than useless. It helped lie us into a catastrophic war, it helped distract us first from destroying our real enemies in the Qaeda, other terrorist networks, and their soulmates in office in this country, and now continues to lie and distract as we finally get another chance to pick a new government to lead us out of this valley of death.

    But who cares, if someone, somewhere, isn't wearing a (made in China) lapel pin?

    At least there's some coverage of this epochal story, on the Web. I wish the corporate mass media would hurry up and die already. It's blocking the view of the wreckage it's wrought.
    • by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:58PM (#23164342)
      Glenn Greenwald writes [salon.com] about that specific point today.

      The silence is deafening.

    • Basic Ideas (Score:5, Insightful)

      by copponex (13876) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @05:11PM (#23164480) Homepage
      1. The enemy of every state are it's own people, since they carry the power (dictatorship or not) to remove them from their position of privilege.

      2. In poorly regulated capitalist countries with huge war (now called "defense") industries, there are always increasing needs to fight wars to fund the industry.

      3. Once the media is profit based, it's in their interest to keep access and sell fear by helping to advance government/corporate goals.

      Notice the drastic difference in public discourse in Britain where the BBC is taxpayer funded but not owned by the interest of any corporate entity, and America where the truth comes second to the dollar. In my opinion, as long as state-owned industries are open and easily reformed by the populace, they are far superior to the closed door dealings of private corporations.

      No one has a "right" to what I would call obscene wealth - making 300 times your average employee for no reason other than the board is stuffed with your friends. And whether this wealth is possible only through human suffering matters very little to the robber barons at the top. It's not their kids losing limbs and lives over there, it's the economic draftees who are given the choice between getting shot at by local criminals or having a gun themselves to shoot back at "terrorists," who, as every other citizen of a civilization has done since time began, do not wish to be bound by foreign chains.
  • So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    So the military is trying to counter the traditional anti-war bias found in the mainstream media? How is that suprising. The media has been shaping hearts and minds here in the United States for decades. It is not unfair for the military to want a piece of the action.
    • by douthat (568842) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:52PM (#23164262)
      It's not the military's job to shape our hearts and minds.
      Their job is to fight and win wars. (hopefully wars that are just) and nothing else.
      • by rbanffy (584143)
        Actually, their job is to protect the interests of the country. Sometimes, that may involve invading a country or helping in someone else's war. Making the military fight an unjustified war to further private industry interests is beyond appalling.

        But, most certainly, it is NOT the job of any part of the government to influence public opinion. This meddling compromises the very heart of a democracy, which is a properly informed population.

        And, please, don't anybody else even begin saying the US is a republi
    • by DogDude (805747)
      The military exist to serve the people, not the other way around.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by lexDysic (542023)

      So the military is trying to counter the traditional anti-war bias found in the mainstream media? How is that suprising. The media has been shaping hearts and minds here in the United States for decades. It is not unfair for the military to want a piece of the action.

      To me, it's not about the military, but about the media. Of course the military is going to try to convince the public to support its policies. What's disappointing is that so many mass-media organizations were offering up people with large, ongoing, financial ties to the military as "unbiased analysts". Surely we can all agree that this is wrong?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Boronx (228853)
      The same bias that pushed all debunking of WMD evidence to the back page? The same bias that generated so much praise for Powell's completely fact-free and degrading presentation to the UN? The same bias towards falling in love with John "100 years in Iraq", "Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran" McCain? The same press bias against mentioniong US casualties and even knowing how many Iraqi casualties there are? The same press bias towards ignoring the fact that the 9/11 hijackers were funded and managed through
    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nickhart (1009937) <nickhart AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @05:17PM (#23164554) Homepage
      "...traditional anti-war bias found in the mainstream media?"

      WTF are you smoking and where can I get some? The US media has always been (and always will be) a cheerleader for every war the US government engages in.

      The real issue here is not that the Pentagon sought to entrench their own paid mouthpieces in every corporate media outlet--but that the mainstream corporate media was willingly complicit in this propaganda campaign and utterly failed to provide any alternate viewpoints against the war.

      All of the information the US government put out to argue their case for war has been proven false. Plenty of information and sources refuting these official lies were available *before* the war began. Yet the media failed to provide anti-war voices the same platform and megaphone that they all-too-willingly gave to stooges working for the Pentagon and corporations that stood to benefit from the war.

      Of course, this is the history of the media under capitalism in a nutshell. Truth (or facts, if you prefer) and the public interest are always trumped by the profit motive and corporations' inherent interest in supporting whichever government they depend upon for largess.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        WTF are you smoking and where can I get some? The US media has always been (and always will be) a cheerleader for every war the US government engages in.

        Oh come now, the media wasn't a cheerleader for the Spanish-American War, it was an instigator.
  • Bleh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:43PM (#23164136)
    These people (the analysts, that is) aren't idiotic sheep. They are mostly retired generals and such. It's not that the Pentagon/Bush/whoever is controlling them: they spread this information because it either
    1) benefits them (financially, they are usually contractors)
    and/or
    2) they really believe in the message

    (truth is probably a bit of both)

    However, in the media's defense, who else will they go to for subject matter experts? It's good to hear all sides of the issue, just keep in mind that no one is TRULY objective...
  • And this is new? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:44PM (#23164144)
    The techniques have improved since Robert McNamara, but the game remains the same.
  • Um... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BobMcD (601576) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:46PM (#23164176)
    I would have replied to this sooner, but my irony meter collided with my paradox prevention device, creating a HUGE mess.

    Look, Mr Barstow, you're trying to sell a story about the media being used to paint a false picture to the American public, yes? But you, yourself, are a member of the media? Reporting on a topic that paints a picture of the picture-painters to the American public? In an election year?

    Please, for the love of all that is good and logical, STFU. Or at least have the good sense to blog anonymously about this stuff like everyone else...

    The next story, if the media is up to it's usual games, would be to present a count of how many times Mr Barstow's own organization has used these same experts to sell it's own rags to the masses.
    • by lexDysic (542023)

      I would have replied to this sooner, but my irony meter collided with my paradox prevention device, creating a HUGE mess. Look, Mr Barstow, you're trying to sell a story about the media being used to paint a false picture to the American public, yes? But you, yourself, are a member of the media? Reporting on a topic that paints a picture of the picture-painters to the American public? In an election year? Please, for the love of all that is good and logical, STFU. Or at least have the good sense to blog anonymously about this stuff like everyone else...

      So you don't care that many of the "unbiased analysts" presented in the media actually had large financial ties to the military? Is this because you were able to independently verify what the conditions were in Iraq? Because you don't consider the war to be important news? Or because you base your opinions on the war on your ideology and not information?

      The next story, if the media is up to it's usual games, would be to present a count of how many times Mr Barstow's own organization has used these same experts to sell it's own rags to the masses.

      Actually, the article included documentation of the times that the NYT did exactly that. No media organization is perfect, but I very much appreciate

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dubl-u (51156) *

      But you, yourself, are a member of the media? Reporting on a topic that paints a picture of the picture-painters to the American public?

      Like the blogosphere, the the mainstream media is a self-examining device. For both, the answer to Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? [wikipedia.org] is supposed to be everybody.

      The next story, if the media is up to it's usual games, would be to present a count of how many times Mr Barstow's own organization has used these same experts to sell it's own rags to the masses.

      Christ, did you even read TFA? That question is asked and answered in a linked article [nytimes.com].

      Where your pseudo-outrage is coming from, I have no idea. Is this some snide hipster pose that makes you feel part of the ironic elite? Or are you really opposed to the media trying to understand the largest media fuck-up of the decade?

      Personally, I'd love to see m

  • The media is a business. If celebrity gossip and privacy abuse proves anything it proves that the media has absolutely no ethical boundaries. Every ethical boundary that appears to exist is already the product of someone putting up the money to put it there. You can pay them to say anything, and if they deny you, it simply means someone is paying them more already to say something else.

    A system of collective intelligence will emerge that will tap directly into the sources of news. The media as we know it wi
  • Duh (Score:2, Interesting)

    The PR war *is* the war. We will not kill all the enemy. We will not kill most of the enemy. The war will end when one side loses the will to fight. That side will be the loser.

    If you want to understand why righties think it is treasonous to protest an ongoing war, imagine what would have happened if, during the Vietnam war, we had been treated to television pictures of massive protests in Hanoi, with huge crowds demanding that the North Vietnamese government end the war, and high government saying it

    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dunbal (464142) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @05:11PM (#23164490)
      If you want to understand why righties think it is treasonous to protest an ongoing war

            Dr. Goebbels would be so proud of you.

            This "war" is a misuse of an army to "police" a civilian population. They've even finally given up on calling them "terrorists" and "insurgents" and are now calling the resistance "criminals". Only with the possibility of facing summary execution if they act suspiciously or carry something that looks like a weapon.

            Soldiers are not policemen, and they never will be. Soldiers mixed with civilian populations for any great period of time THROUGHOUT HISTORY have only brought disastrous results - usually at the expense of the civilians.

            But you are saying that people should passively accept this COMPLETE misunderstanding of what an Army is supposed to do. We should continue to pay for the continued deployment of troops that are the CAUSE of the resistance in the first place? Remember that we're paying this two ways - first, the government is (again) borrowing money to fund the war. Money that could have been saved, or could have been spent on infrastructure HERE. AND you are also paying directly with $118/barrel oil.

            And you think we should just be quiet, otherwise the "terrorists win"? My friend, the terrorists have ALREADY won. America has changed its way of life, spent a shitload of money, lost a lot of troops and equipment (not to mention the injured), and polarized the entire arab world against it more than ever. Mission Accomplished.

            One thing is treason, another thing is "Intelligence". Is it treason when a government acts against the wishes of 70% of its people? Should we hang the 70%?
      • by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @05:35PM (#23164802)

        AND you are also paying directly with $118/barrel oil.
        There are just a few other contributors to that, you know -- including some major fields currently down due to the effects of weather, but mostly because China is on a major petroleum buying binge. Total demand for the stuff in the last five years is up a lot, while the dollar is down.

        Put another way, the price of oil in Euros isn't up nearly as much.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by metachimp (456723)
      Do you think it might have bucked up our fighting spirit, just a tad, to think that our enemy was near surrender?

      Depends. How many times have we heard that the insurgency in Iraq was "in its last throes", or that we have reached a "defining moment"?

      In terms of Vietnam, it may have, but it would have done nothing to change the fact that the government we were backing in Saigon was loathed by the people in the South. Nixon assured everyone that we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. No one believ
  • I'm sorry, I may just live a sheltered life in Seattle, but aside from some cable news stations I have yet to see any 'pro-war' media and the veil of objectivity seems very thin. If they are being paid off to be pro-war then they are doing a very bad job.

  • by SoapBox17 (1020345) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:58PM (#23164352) Homepage
    The summary is another one of those "OMFG THE GOVERNMENT I OUT TO GET ME" so common on slashdot now... but really the problem here is that the media allowed this to happen. I would be disappointed if the government didn't try to leverage its position to get favorable news. God knows, everyone else on earth would do so or already does so (remember hearing about how so many of these canned "news" reports that appear on local news around the country are really corporate agendas).

    The media are the ones who are wrong here, not the pentagon.
  • This is news? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dtjohnson (102237) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @04:58PM (#23164354)
    Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity of military analysts on the major networks, is a Pentagon information apparatus...

    Duh.
  • This will continue so long as our media engages in a 24/7 fight for the eyes of a country that only pays attention to things that are colourful, shocking, and don't make them think too much. We're letting them off the hook, and articles like this - years after this war should have been stopped - are simply too fucking late.
  • "Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity of military analysts on the major networks, is a Pentagon information apparatus..."

    I never found any appearance of objectivity - at least not from the likes of Fox News and their cohorts. Are there really people who got fooled into thinking Fox and others were being objective? If so, then it is a sad day for the relative IQ of the U.S. populace...

    And no, I dont watch Fox News (when I dont have to), but someone in my house does... I keep telling him it's more like the Fox Comedy Channel and that he can get a more accurate portrayal of news events from watching Comedy Central.

  • Keep this in mind the next time a dittohead tells you the media has a liberal bias. If it was ever true, it's certainly not true now.

  • In a PBS show about Rudyard Kipling's son going off WW I call My Son Jack, Rudyard was in the British Propaganda Bureau that routinely manipulated the news.

    Nothing new under the Sun int he the 21st century.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jd (1658)
      Europeans now refer to 1914-1918 as "the lost generation" and suffer from a collective guilt quite unheard-of in any conflict before or since. Every town, every village dating that far back has a memorial similar to the Vietnam memorials in most American cities. You might notice a slight disparity in the scale. People genuinely did believe it was so terrible that nobody would want to go to war again. When critics point to efforts to avert World War II, they forget that the ones who were making the decision
  • people react to this revelation as if there was some sort of mythical time and place where the media was pure as snow and that the arrival of gw bush has somehow corrupted it

    folks, this is standard operating procedure, always has been, and ALWAYS WILL BE. here's a story: war hawks trump up a lie about military activities in a country they want to invade. 2003? no, 1898:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_journalism#Spanish-American_War [wikipedia.org]

    people need to realize the media has always been corrupt, always has been ideological, always had an aggressive agenda, and always will be, and people need to have a better appreciation for the value of a robust bullshit meter

    the proper response to this story about pentagon manipulations is not "how can we clean up the media", because you can't, but "what was wrong with me when i thought the media could ever be pure?"

    the ideal world is not a fair and impartial media: this is a ridiculous fairy tale beleived by naive fools. the ideal world is openly ideological media, OF EVERY IDEOLOGICAL STRIPE. then let the viewer pick and choose what he or she thinks is true based on his or her own proclivities

    the danger is a country that tries to systematically shut down right-leaning media, or a country that tries to systematically shut down a left-leaning media, or only has a state controlled media. no: give us fox news, and give us cnn, and msnbc, and give us anyone else who wants to play the game, and let all of the ideologies screm all of the manipulations and propaganda they want as loud as they want

    and thereby train the general populace to have a muscular bullshit meter

    that is the best you can do, and its not the worst case scneario, its the best: you don't get a healthy bullshit meter in an environment of no propaganda. you only get a healthy bullshit meter by being exposed to ever increasing toxic doses of propaganda, until you are immune

    think about it: a "pure" media would spawn a general population with weak, flabby minds, blindly trusting whatever the media said. meanwhile, a corrupt, vicious lying media with screaming propaganda and subtle outright manipulation everywhere would breed strong distrustful minds. the caveat being of course, is that both the left and right be allowed to play this game, that there be more than one media outlet

    (sidebar: if you believe all media companies are pretty much the same, with the same ideological spin: congratulations, you're a fringe character. you are either so far left or so far right, you can't tell the difference between mildly left or mildly right, it all looks the same to you. in whcih case, being on the fringe, you simply don't matter)

    so those of you who grieve at the rise of fox news: celebrate it friend: all diseases need an innoculation. consider fox news a vaccination against propaganda. turn it on, let your mind soak in it. its not poisoning you, you are building resistance to a disease
    • no: give us fox news, and give us cnn, and msnbc, and give us anyone else who wants to play the game, and let all of the ideologies screm all of the manipulations and propaganda they want as loud as they want

      From Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc.:

      We begin with the common ground. Under the First Amendment, there is no such thing as a false idea. However pernicious an opinion may seem, we depend for its correction not on the conscience of judges and juries, but on the competition of other ideas.

  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @05:28PM (#23164708) Journal
    It's all very well to have free speech written into the constitution, but it's another to have a culture of free speech. Ultimately, it's the culture that is more important. American teenagers grow up thinking that free speech means freedom for individuals to put the word 'fuck' on their T-shirts with no conception that it is one of the ways we keep tyrannies in check and enable the free flow of ideas that leads to the betterment of society. It's easy to get sidelined by trivial free speech issues like nipples at the superbowl and forget that the media should be one of the channels by which we find out if we are heading for tyranny.

    Consider Britain during the Thatcher era. Britain lacks strong constitutional free speech protections and so the government imposed a ban on broadcasting the speech of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams (of whom I am no supporter BTW). But the media had a culture of free speech regardless of the law and found ways to work around it, eg. by dubbing video of Adams. A strong culture will trump laws. Unfortunately, Americans are sitting on their laurels and taking their free speech for granted. It's not good enough to be written into law if Americans don't work at it.

  • ... that there are people who don't know this?

    Or that its time to fess up to what the public already knows.

    "Clear Channel" yeah buddy!!!
  • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @07:02PM (#23165766) Homepage

    This headline assumes that the pro-war faction brought onto the corporate so-called "news" were analysts to begin with and didn't just gain the "analyst" label by the fact that they were featured on the corporate news. They were not impartial experts. They were merely pundits, sent to lie to drum up popular support for an illegal and immoral war. As Peter Hart from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting [fair.org] explained on today's Democracy Now! (transcript [democracynow.org], video [archive.org], high-quality audio [archive.org], smaller size audio [archive.org]):

    One of the most shocking things in the story is that in early 2003, these guys got a briefing about WMDs, and the government said, "We actually don't have hard evidence right now that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction." Did any of them go on the air and say that? No. The Pentagon, I think, had total control and total faith that these guys would deliver the message that they intended to deliver to the public, and that's exactly what they did, and the media did very little to counteract this overwhelming propaganda campaign from the Pentagon.

    What the Pentagon did is conspire with the media and over seventy-five retired military officers to spread lies about the invasion and occupation of Iraq; propaganda which continues to this day. The pundits weren't being manipulated, the public was. The pundits participated with their consent. Since one expects the Pentagon to get their story out (I don't excuse it, I merely expect it), one might wonder why the media didn't do their job and challenge those in power to justify their case for war? It would be far better to headline this story a failure of media to do their job as reporters. Again, Hart explains:

    I think the extent of the briefings was somewhat shocking and the blase attitude from the networks. They didn't care what military contractors these guys were representing when they were out at the studio. They didn't care that the Pentagon was flying them on their own dime to Iraq. Just basic journalistic judgment was completely lacking here. So I think the story is really about a media failure, more than a Pentagon failure. The Pentagon did exactly what you would expect to do, taking advantage of this media bias in favor of having more and more generals on the air when the country is at war.

    The New York Times didn't cover the media aspect of this problem probably because the Times was a willing participant in the lying [commondreams.org]. Apparently it still is.

  • Fundamental question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Archtech (159117) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @07:55AM (#23170320)
    There's a fundamental question lying at the bottom of all this controversy. Those of us who live in democracies and hear constantly about how wonderful our "free media" are expect to get objective news reporting. Maybe not from any single outlet, but from the aggregate of the media. Some will lean left, others right, some are hawks, others doves, etc. So far, so good.

    Then our government declares a state of war or "war". The first question is which you think it is: war or "war". If it's a real war, Churchill's dictum that "truth must be accompanied by an escort of lies" comes into play. We all know that "loose lips sink ships", and no one wants to be responsible for getting our brave boys killed, or even for harming civilian morale by revealing that, yes, one of our battleships was sunk with the loss of 4,000 sailors.

    Trouble is, how do we know if it's a real war or a "war" arbitrarily declared by the government? As Orwell's 1984 pointed out, it is trivially easy for any government to proclaim a continuous state of war, thereby giving itself an excuse to suspend all civil liberties "for the duration" - i.e. indefinitely.

    And this is where public patriotism comes in. In some countries more than others, a large fraction of the people readily snap into a patriotic, somewhat militaristic, unquestioning frame of mind as soon as they perceive any threat. In such a climate of opinion, the media would be insane to take an anti-government line or question the war. It's not necessarily a matter of prejudice, or vested interests, or black helicopters; it's just that they will lose their audience if they don't tell it what it wants to hear.

    Just as we get the government we deserve (because we vote it in), we also get the media we deserve (because we buy it selectively). Only with a truly educated, rational, mature, objective citizenship can excellent media thrive.

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