The NY Times was shocked, shocked! to learn that major news outlets have been spinning the Iraq war for 6 years using “military analysts” with direct financial connections to military contractors who were reaping huge war profits. I am certain they were also shocked to find out that one of those major news outlets that was spinning the war with the help of paid propagandists was the New York Times itself.
In a 7600 word account that had the feel of an article that had been written years ago, and shoved in a drawer to rot because managing editors didn't want to touch it, the Times details the nepotistic connections between military analysts featured in news reports and the military contractors profiting from the Iraq war. I wouldn't be surprised if the article was pulled from the drawer, dusted off, and updated before publishing this Saturday on the front page of the New York Times.
Some notable quotes from the article include:
“Five years into the Iraq war, most details of the architecture and execution of the Pentagon’s campaign have never been disclosed. But The Times successfully sued the Defense Department to gain access to 8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records … These records reveal a symbiotic relationship where the usual dividing lines between government and journalism have been obliterated.”
Referring to the Vietnam War, Paul E. Vallely, a Fox News analyst from 2001 to 2007 noted:
“We lost the war — not because we were outfought, but because we were out Psyoped,” he wrote. He urged a radically new approach to psychological operations in future wars — taking aim at not just foreign adversaries but domestic audiences, too. He called his approach “MindWar” — using network TV and radio to “strengthen our national will to victory.”
“Some e-mail messages between the Pentagon and the analysts reveal an implicit trade of privileged access for favorable coverage. Robert H. Scales Jr., a retired Army general and analyst for Fox News and National Public Radio whose consulting company advises several military firms on weapons and tactics used in Iraq, wanted the Pentagon to approve high-level briefings for him inside Iraq in 2006. “Recall the stuff I did after my last visit,” he wrote. “I will do the same this time.”
“The strategic target remains our population,” General Conway said. “We can lose people day in and day out, but they’re never going to beat our military. What they can and will do if they can is strip away our support. And you guys can help us not let that happen.”
“General, I just made that point on the air,” an analyst replied.
“Let’s work it together, guys,” General Conway urged.
“An analyst said at another point: “This is a wider war. And whether we have democracy in Iraq or not, it doesn’t mean a tinker’s damn if we end up with the result we want, which is a regime over there that’s not a threat to us.”
“Even as they assured Mr. Rumsfeld that they stood ready to help in this public relations offensive, the analysts sought guidance on what they should cite as the next “milestone” that would, as one analyst put it, “keep the American people focused on the idea that we’re moving forward to a positive end.” They placed particular emphasis on the growing confrontation with Iran.“
“A spokeswoman for Fox News said executives “refused to participate” in this article.”
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the entire sordid affair of turning the corporate media into a propaganda wing of the Pentagon and the Bush administration is that even when news outlets understood the connections between their analysts and various contractors in Iraq, they went out of their way to avoid asking them any tough questions about conflicts of interest. What you don't know can’t hurt you, right?