Spinning the War

20Apr08

Be sure to read this excellent bit of investigative reporting in today’s New York Times by David Barstow. It lays out in painful detail the way that the Pentagon created and nurtured a web of “independent” war analysts to serve as talking heads on TV news for the past 6 years, and how nearly all of them are employed by military contractors and other defense-related businesses. Combined with the essential Bill Moyers documentary Buying the War, these reports do a lot to explain how an aggressive administration-sponsored PR campaign combined with a timid and unquestioning commercial media enabled our current fiasco of a war.

The biggest gap in Barstow’s article is an explanation for why the media allows its “experts” to hold forth unchecked, whether due to conflicts of interest, ethical lapses, or demonstrated ineptitude for actually displaying expertise. The end of the article tries to address this, but the networks stonewall Barstow in a range of ways, from ABC saying it’s the responsibility of analysts to report their own conflicts of interest, to Fox’s outright refusal to participate in the article. Of course looking too closely at these issues would force the Times to justify why it publishes its own discredited “expert,” William Kristol, despite nearly every claim he’s made for the last 7 years having been proven wrong.

One of the chief claims you hear from Republican candidates is that they’ll run the government like a CEO, taking lessons from corporate America to cut through government inefficiency – Bush certainly ran in part on his business-background, as an MBA rather than a lawyer or politician (ignoring the fact that every business he’d run had failed). Clearly one of the chief lessons that this “government as a business” mantra has brought to Washington is to embrace the PR industry’s dubious record of manipulated news and fraudulent expertise.

274 days and counting…

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One Response to “Spinning the War”


  1. 1 More news meta… « info-fetishist

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