We be big pimpin’ on Fox TV
Max Boot sees no problem with the Pentagon seeding shills amongst the "experts":
Hold the front page! Heck, on second thought, hold three full inside pages as well. Notify the Pulitzer jurors. The New York Times has a blockbuster scoop. Its ace reporter, David Barstow, has uncovered shocking evidence that . . . the Pentagon tries to get out its side of the story about Iraq to the news media.
Are you surprised? Outraged? Furious? Apparently the Times is: it’s found a new wrinkle in what it views as an insidious military propaganda campaign. You see, the Defense Department isn’t content to try to present its views simply to full-time reporters who are paid employees of organizations like the New York Times. It actually has the temerity to brief retired military officers directly, who then opine on TV and in print about matters such as the Iraq War.
As I read and read and read this seemingly endless report, I kept trying to figure out what the news was here. Why did the Times decide this story is so important? After all, it’s no secret that the Pentagon–and every other branch of government–routinely provides background briefings to journalists (including columnists and other purveyors of opinion), and tries to influence their coverage by carefully doling out access. It is hardly unheard of for cabinet members–or even the President and Vice President–to woo selected journalists deemed to be friendly while cutting off those deemed hostile.
How dare the Pentagon try to break the media monopoly traditionally held by full-time journalists of reliably “progressive” views! The gall of those guys to try to shape public opinion through the words of retired officers who might have a different perspective! Who might even be, as the article darkly warns, “in sync with the administration’s neo-conservative brain trust.”
The implicit purpose of the Times’s article is obvious: to elevate this perfectly normal practice into a scandal in the hopes of quashing it. Thus leaving the Times and its fellow MSM organs–conveniently enough–as the dominant shapers of public opinion.
Boot conveniently bypasses the icky ethical issue of retired generals on TV selling war, treating the bobblehead shows like infomercials, because it lines their own pockets:
Some of the key findings in the New York Times story:
*"Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they were asked to assess on air."
* "These business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves."
* Members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated…One trip participant, General Nash of ABC, said some briefings were so clearly ‘artificial’ that he joked to another group member that they were ‘on the George Romney memorial trip to Iraq,’ a reference to Mr. Romney’s infamous claim that American officials had ‘brainwashed’ him into supporting the Vietnam war during a tour there in 1965."
Not that there is anything wrong with making a buck as a war whore …even if it means selling out the guys still serving. Semper fi suckers, booyah!
On the other hand, is it at all surprising that a respected LA Times columnist like Boot sees nothing wrong with allowing outsiders to "shape public opinion" by using a media sock puppet?
As you can see here there have been some persistent attempts by someone at the Council on Foreign Relations to scrub the Max Boot Wikipedia page of some unflattering information. Boot, of course, is a fellow at CFR and a columnist for The Los Angeles Times. What information? Well, as you can read here on Altercation, what this is about is the fact that Boot is involved in some scandalously corrupt backstory. Before he was a prestigious military policy writer, Boot was simply a generic rightwing hack at The Wall Street Journal‘s hack-laden editorial page. While there he, among other things, wrote an editorial attacking public health officials that was edited by tobacco lobbyist Steven Milloy.
The only reason we know anything about this is that it happens to have come up in tobacco-related litigation. It’s possible, in principle, that when Boot was writing rightwing regulatory policy journalism for the Journal he just so happened to let one of his pieces be edited by a lobbyist and that that piece just so happened to have come up in a lawsuit. Much more likely, however, is that he did this on various occasions and there just so happens to have been a lawsuit that uncovered this.
It’s hard to tell if Boot is up to his old tricks or is just turning tricks. Not that there is a dimes worth of difference between the two…