ANATOMY OF BIAS: HOW VERMONT MEDIA PIMP FOR THE F-35 BOMBER
By William Boardman Email address removed
Development of the F-35 fighter-bomber began in 2001 and has grown into the most expensive military weapons program in history, so it probably wouldn't be surprising if a local TV affiliate of a network owned by a major defense contractor ran a week-long series called "Investigating the F-35" that was less news than a 20-minute infomercial for the military product.
That's what WPTZ Burlington did during the second week of November, showing reporter David Schneider taking a trip to Florida's Eglin Air Force Base to listen to F-35 testing there, but not doing much investigating. In fact he mostly avoided the hard questions about the F-35 that have contributed to increasing resistance to basing it in the middle of Vermont's only metropolitan area.
The reports gave little idea of the depth and complexity of objections to having a nuclear-capable offensive weapon based in Burlington, and omits any reference to the deceptive and coercive tactics of the F-35's supporters, who include most of Vermont's political leadership whose argument so far is job-promising and flag-waving. Extended critiques of this series appear on the "F-35 in South Burlington" website started in September 2010.
WPTV Listen to F-35s in Florida
In Part 1 of the WPTZ series, the reporter accepts at face value the reasons a couple of Marine Corps colonels think the F-35 is terrific, without even hinting on the problems that have put the project a decade behind schedule and about 100% over budget as its costs rise toward $400 billion with no clear end in sight. Instead, the report characterizes the F-35 as a "model of modern engineering," even though one of the colonels notes that "this system is in its immaturity."
In Part 2, the reporter observes and carries out sound tests that he emphasizes are not scientific. He discovers that F-16s using after-burners make more noise than F-35s without after-burners, pretty much settling a question that wasn't raised. But he ended the segment with no follow-up for a colonel's provocative comment that: "I think you'll find that we will operate the airplane to be the best neighbors as we can be, but we need some time to figure out what that is as well."