Tuesday, May 06, 2008

NY Times Exposes Bush Administration, Networks’ Secret Shame

According to a New York Times investigative story, the Bush Administration had retired generals and other former military leaders try to sell the war as “analysts” to news networks during the buildup of the Iraq war and afterwards.

“Many analysts strongly denied that they had either been co-opted or had allowed outside business interests to affect their on-air comments, and some have used their platforms to criticize the conduct of the war,” The New York Times wrote on April 20, 2008.

The Pentagon said it was laughable that they could make retired military men into puppets and that they only provided these men with factual information to give to the American public.

But The New York Times’ article painted a very different picture by using 8,000 pages of e-mails and other documents it had obtain after suing the Department of Defense. These materials contained Pentagon talking points operations, private meetings and trips to Iraq, among other places. According to these documents, the Pentagon referred to these analysts, some of whom were being paid a nice sum of money per interview by the news networks, as “message force multipliers.” This certainly doesn’t sound like a friendly term to refer to messengers of “factual information.”

In fact, some of these military men weren’t comfortable with the messages they were delivering, but didn’t say anything for fear of losing access to important briefing information.

And what is worse is that some of these networks, according to The New York Times, knew about the relationship between these military men and the government and didn’t report it to the viewers.

“…other analysts said their network handlers also raised no objections when the Defense Department began paying their commercial airfare for Pentagon-sponsored trips to Iraq — a clear ethical violation for most news organizations,” according to The New York Times.

It was reported that some of the other networks didn’t know about the dubious relationships between their analysts and the Bush Administration.

But since The New York Times has let the cat out of the bag, hardly any of the networks reported their shame, according to a recent Editor & Publisher article.

The networks who did not know they were being shammed should get a small pass from criticism and should work harder to prevent any conflicts from happening. To the other networks that went along with this disgusting display of a huge lack of media ethics, shame on them. They failed in their job of being objective and truthful, and more importantly, being the watch dogs of the government.

There was no need to sell the idea to the American public that we needed to go into Iraq to find out what was going on after years of broken resolutions by Saddam Hussein, as it has been written before in The Times Observer.

And the Bush Administration isn’t the first one to use propaganda to push a war effort to the American people. However, it shouldn’t be an accepted practice by the American public. We deserve truth and accountability from our leaders, especially from our elected president.