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War News for Sale II

April 21, 2009 - Jim Anderson
About a year ago, I wrote a column, “War News for Sale,” about New York Times writer David Barstow’s coverage of the Pentagon pundits scandal.

In his stories, Barstow revealed that retired military officers had been recruited by the Pentagon to serve as TV analysts and generate favorable news coverage of the Bush administration’s “war on terror.”

Many analysts acknowledged receiving special treatment from the Pentagon. Some admitted to repeating information that they suspected was dubious.

Most of the pundits wooed by the Pentagon had ties to military contractors, either as lobbyists, executives, board members or consultants. The business connections of the Pentagon-approved pundits, however, were rarely disclosed.

When Barstow’s expose was published last year, it went largely ignored by the networks. Barstow has now won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. And, again, the networks are quiet.

This is how the Pulitzer Committee described Barstow’s work in presenting the prize:

“Awarded to David Barstow of The New York Times for his tenacious reporting that revealed how some retired generals, working as radio and television analysts, had been co-opted by the Pentagon to make its case for the war in Iraq, and how many of them also had undisclosed ties to companies that benefited from policies they defended.”

ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN and Fox have all employed these military analysts. These same networks, for the most part, continue to keep this story under a rock.

Many analysts deny that outside business interests have affected their on-air comments. If that’s true, then what's preventing the networks from delivering honest coverage of the scandal.

The behavior of the networks thus far amounts to deception. To put it kindly.


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