En Words

A place to talk about words - whether from books, stories, magazines, brochures, or matchbook covers.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pentagon Manipulates Press

Although this seems to be the PR equivalent of a dog bites man story, the Pentagon, and Bush administration, managed to efficiently lead broadcasters around by the nose, and possibly print as well, by subverting third party sources: retired military personnel who act as military analysts:
Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.

The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, 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.
Viewers and readers (because I refuse to believe that a lot of print journalists haven't also been taken in) don't get to hear about the business relationships that help drive the need to please the brass:
But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.
In addition, the analysts would act as spies for the military, reporting back on planned stories as well as forwarding copies of their correspondence with the networks. A number of the analysts came out and admitted to the reporters of this story that they were duped. Nothing like keeping the lines of communication open, even if twisted, turned, and knotted.

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