“World War Three will be a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” ~ Marshall McLuhan, 1968
The New York Times has now documented the sad prescience of McCluhan. In an in-depth examination of supposedly independent, retired military analysts, the Times’ David Barstow has uncovered what may be the most brazen attempt at propaganda ever initiated.
“To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.”
“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.”
“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.”
It should come as no surprise that the Bush administration would manipulate the press to shape public opinion. The press, of course, are their willing accomplices. Rupert Murdoch of Fox News even admitted it publicly. And the Pentagon has been caught doing the same in Iraq. The Associated Press reported that the U.S. military secretly paid Iraqi newspapers to publish stories intended to portray operations there in a positive light.
But the scale of this program, the fact that it was directed at Americans, and the added wrinkle of financial corruption and greed at the expense of thousands of lives, is thoroughly without precedent. The article reveals that there was deliberate intent on the part of the government to define what constituted news and to replace the analysis of independent journalists with that of hand-picked and conflict-laden Pentagon mouthpieces. It was further disclosed that many of these spokespersons provided commentary they knew was false in order to protect either their access to the media or their profits. These former military officers clearly were not protecting their troops.
“It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,’ ” Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, said.
That’s just one of the more than 150 retired officers participating in this program, most of whom worked for – you guessed it – Fox News. One Fox News crony, Paul E. Vallely, called it a “MindWar” – using network TV and radio to “strengthen our national will to victory.” Another analyst, General Conway, confessed that “The strategic target remains our [the American] population.” He went on to callously trivialize the loss of U.S. troops as incidental to winning in the court of public opinion and, he might as well have added, in the marketplace of war profiteering.
The scope of deceit and greed that this program encompasses is mind boggling. Read the whole story at the New York Times. Then visit FreePress where they are collecting signatures to urge Congress to further investigate this breach of the public trust.