NBC's military analysts

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

The NYT's David Barstow returned Sunday and updated his April blockbuster story about how the Pentagon, during the run-up to the war with Iraq and for years after that, worked closely with retired military officers who became TV talking heads. The Pentagon did that by, among other things, treating the analysts to special briefings and taking them on guided tours of Iraq. But this wasn't simply a fact-finding initiative. According to the Times, when at least one of the analysts began to criticize the war, he was promptly suspended from the Pentagon program.

According to Media Matters' research, the Pentagon pundits were quoted more than 4,500 times on broadcast networks, cable TV, and NPR.

Among the participants in the Pentagon program were NBC and MSNBC, which threw open their studio doors to the Pentagon pundits without ever disclosing their closed-door prep sessions with the pro-war administration. In the wake of the Times' expose, none of the TV news outlets implicated in the story reported on the revelation, despite the fact the article prompted Congressional hearing.

In the latest installment, Barstow focused on Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who is still featured on NBC News despite his substantial, albeit undisclosed, financial conflicts of interest.

Here's Glenn Greenwald's take:

Worse than mere suppression, NBC and Brian Williams have just outright ignored this scandal, continuing to use McCaffrey as an analyst without requiring that he sever -- or even disclose -- his numerous conflicts, allowing him to continue to use NBC News to propagandize for the military policies from which his affiliated companies benefit. Now that Barstow has added substantially to the set of incriminating facts, it remains to be seen whether NBC will finally be forced to tell its viewers about what happened with its own involvement in the Pentagon's program and/or to take corrective action.

Question: When Barstow wins a Pulitzer next April for his series on the TV generals, will television news still boycott the story?

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.