Tuesday, June 02, 2009

EXCLUSIVE...Pentagon Pundits: New York Times Reporter David Barstow Wins Pulitzer Prize for Exposing Military's Pro-War Propaganda Media Campaign

EXCLUSIVE...Pentagon Pundits: New York Times Reporter David Barstow Wins Pulitzer Prize for Exposing Military's Pro-War Propaganda Media Campaign

AMY GOODMAN: We begin our show today with New York Times reporter David Barstow. He recently won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for exposing how dozens of 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 military contractors that benefited from policies they defended.

Barstow uncovered Pentagon documents that repeatedly refer to the military analysts as “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who could be counted on to deliver administration themes and messages to millions of Americans in the form of their own opinions.

The so-called analysts were given hundreds of classified Pentagon briefings, provided with Pentagon-approved talking points and given free trips to Iraq and other sites paid for by the Pentagon.

David Bartow wrote, quote, “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.”

The officials appeared on all the main cable news channels—Fox News, CNN and MSNBC—as well as the three nightly network news broadcasts.

The Pentagon program started during the build-up to the Iraq war.

BILL O’REILLY: You met with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.

MAJ. GEN. PAUL VALLELY: Special briefing on Thursday. Very interesting. A lot of good information, especially about post-Saddam, post-regime time, what are we going to do then? And it’s a very well laid-out plan.

AMY GOODMAN: The Pentagon continued to use retired generals to counter criticism on various issues, ranging from Guantanamo to the surge in Iraq. In some cases, analysts would appear on cable news programs live from the Pentagon just minutes after receiving a special briefing.

WOLF BLITZER: This is just coming into CNN right now. The Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has just wrapped up his meeting with retired US generals. Our own military analyst, retired US Air Force Major General Don Shepperd, is fresh of that meeting. He’s joining us now live from the Pentagon.

MAJ. GEN. DONALD SHEPPERD: The message needs to be, imagine an Iraq—imagine Iraq under the control of Zarqawi with another conveyor belt for terrorists, combined with oil and water and land and resources. Imagine the effect of that. That’s the message that has to get out to the American people.

AMY GOODMAN: Since the New York Times first report appeared thirteen months ago, the major cable news programs and television networks have responded with what has been described as a, quote, “deafening silence.” Even after David Barstow won the Pulitzer Prize last week, the story—and even Barstow’s prize—went unnoticed on cable news and television networks.

...DAVID BARSTOW: You know, to be honest with you, I haven’t received many invitations—in fact, any invitations—to appear on any of the main network or cable programs. I can’t say I’m hugely shocked by that.

On the other hand, while there’s been kind of deafening silence, as you put it, on the network side of this, the stories have had—sparked an enormous debate in the blogosphere. And to this day, I continue to get regular phone calls from not just in this country but around the world, where other democracies are confronting similar kinds of issues about the control of their media and the influence of their media by the government.

So it’s been an interesting experience to see the sort of two reactions, one being silence from the networks and the cable programs, and the other being this really lively debate in the blogosphere.

...As Glenn Greenwald put it, “The New York Times’ David Barstow won a richly deserved Pulitzer Prize […] for two articles that, despite being featured as major news stories on the front page of [the New York Times], were completely suppressed by virtually every network and cable news show, which to this day have never informed their viewers about what Barstow uncovered. [And yet] here is how the Pulitzer Committee described Barstow’s exposés:

‘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.’”

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