Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Pentagon Sways the Media: How Responsible Are We?

This story just broke today in the New York Times, and it's a must-read (yes, all 11 pages):

New York Times: Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon's Hidden Hand

It's about how the Pentagon uses, overtly or otherwise, its retired generals and personnel to propagate the Department of Defense's military agenda with regard to overseas policies (Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, etc.) on network news by positioning them as seasoned military "analysts."

Apparently, many of these "analysts" that appear on media news coverage of the military not only echo Pentagon talking points (deliberately or otherwise), but some even have vested interest/holdings in companies doing business in those areas. According to the Times, these relationships are rarely or not at all revealed to the networks and the viewers.

From a journalistic standpoint, it's ethically reprehensible. From a public relations standpoint, it's successful business. From a viewer's standpoint, it's a look into the shadowy world of the back-slapping, hand-shaking deals that go on behind closed doors (and behind the broadcast) -- the kind of deals that now dictate so much of what the journalism industry does as a whole. I can only hope that it's sobering in some way.

I've got one simple question with regard to all of this: as journalists, as broadcasters, as those who make an attempt to quote those we deem "experts" on subjects to get a fair take on a subject, how responsible are we in this debacle?

No comments: