“The Pentagon pundits’ lobbying disclosure forms help chart what can only be called a military-industrial-media complex. They also make clear that war is very good for at least some kinds of business.”
— Diane Farsetta, PR Watch.org, Center for Media and Democracy
Well, the most infuriating bummer about the endless and increasingly inane endgame of the Hilary/Obama struggle is the complete inability of news to cover actual news — the Pentagon Pundit Propaganda Scandal in particular. The rather stunning mainstream media blackout on this story has been one of the more demoralizing indications that we’ve been living our informational lives locked behind a series of steel doors in Uncle Cheney’s basement for the last seven years.
The scandal, which you may or may not have heard anything about – which registered nary a blip on the horizon, really – was a huge front-page story in the New York Times, and then was not picked up for any additional reporting or comment by any of the mainstream news media, namely – ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN — who, naturally, are all guilty of using and approving of the use of Pentagon-approved, retired military experts – Generals, Admirals, etc.– as unbiased ‘analysts.’ These analysts were in fact cynically used by the Pentagon as “message multipliers” – read: willing to parrot administration talking points that were supportive and flattering to the administration and its war policies.
From the New York Times story:
“Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.”
Katrina Vanden Heuvel commented, on TheNation.com: “Goebbels would be proud.”
The supposed reason why the story had no legs in the mainstream press lay in the fact that the conflict-of-interest was a little bit nebulous. True, the pundits received no direct payola from the Pentagon, but there was inestimable indirect payoff in the liminal nethersphere of access to key figures in the Department of Defense – like Donald Rumsfeld.
The private sector of the defense industry essentially provides the de-facto retirement benefits for high-level military men – the golden parachute for silvered paratroopers. After years of hard work and sacrifice for modest pay, they finally get to cash in, in their later careers, as ‘consultants’ — they sit on Boards of Directors, provide expertise, oversee studies. They represent their companies personally, and in doing so add their magnetism to the products and services their company is pitching. It is inestimably important that they get cozy with key figures in the Pentagon whose camaraderie can help their companies get contracts. The pundits were all working in some capacity as contractors for various private military industrial companies seeking contracts from the DoD. Access is a critical component to landing these contracts, particularly under an administration that consistently rewards loyalty and complicity above anything else, including expertise.
The Pentagon pundits were crack salesmen – they sold the war to the public by reciting verbatim Pentagon talking points in a tacit — if not explicit — exchange for selling contracts to the Pentagon. They were only too happy to do the Pentagon favors on TV to keep their access pump-primed.
A massive PSYOP was perpetrated on the American public. Truth is the first casualty of war. In this case, war was the direct result of casualties sustained by truth. The pundits were the delivery system – the cigarettes that delivered these untruths into our public dialogue.
But the pundits were also victims of PSYOP.
Retired Generals and Admirals are terribly vain, and this was used against them: they are all too eager to display their plumage and expertise. TV punditry is ego Viagra for the over-the-hill warrior chief. The retired military men get to feel vital and necessary and be the center of attention again; the Pentagon gets their loyalty and is friendly to pitches from their companies, and everyone is happy except the totally ignorant and manipulated American public, and thousands of dead and critically wounded people overseas – including our own troops, and numberless civilian casualties.
This greasy, frat-boy, insider loyalty filth has been responsible for some of the more outrageous missteps of this Administration -willingness to walk the party walk has been continuously rewarded above and beyond any other criteria. Stupid people got jobs that smart people should have had, and a lot of criminally stupid and stupidly criminal decisions were made. But such skeevy moves are of a piece with all of the actions of this administration: as the decision to drill for oil near polar bears becomes convenient, so scientists are hired to retrofit and tailor science to justify and minimize the environmental hazards of drilling for oil near polar bears. They do everything backward; it’s more convenient for them that way.
Saddam gassed his people; our leaders are just a little more subtle about the ways they poison us, but any way you slice it, it’s still technically authoritarian.
The most telling silences about this story have been from Hilary and Obama. Neither of them have said a word about the Big Media/Military Infotainment Industrial Complex – ostensibly because the Big Media is covering them instead of this story. If either of our democratic candidates truly represents something other than a drift into more of the same types of betrayal, they’d acknowledge that there is something truly rotten going on in big media.
Big Media, however, owns them, and by extension, controls us all.
Behold, Fiends: the oligarchy. Oleaginous, ain’t it?