A Word From Our Sponsor: Public television’s attempts to placate David Koch

Jane Mayer, A Word From Our Sponsor. The New Yorker, 27 May 2013. “Public television’s attempts to placate David Koch…. For decades, federal funding for public broadcasting has been dwindling, and the government’s contribution now makes up only twelve percent of PBS’s funds. Affiliates such as WNET are almost entirely dependent on gifts, some of which are sizable….”

[Read more…]

The Runaway General: The Rolling Stone profile of McChrystal that changed history

Michael Hastings, The Runaway General: The Rolling Stone profile of McChrystal that changed history. Rolling Stone, 22 June 2010. In this profile of General Stanley McChrystal, Michael Hastings reported remarks made by McChrystal’s staff that were critical and scornful of Vice President Biden, US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, and Special Representative to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke. The day after the article was published, President Obama accepted McChrystal’s resignation, saying McChrystal’s conduct did ‘not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system.'”

[Read more…]

One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex: Barry McCaffrey’s World

David Barstow, One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex: Barry McCaffrey’s WorldThe New York Times, 29 November 2008. Part 2 of a two-part series. (Part 1, Message Machine: Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand, 20 April 2008.) “General McCaffrey offers a case study of the benefits that can flow from favored [military] access: an inside track to sensitive information about strategy and tactics; insight into the priorities of ground commanders; a private channel to officials who oversaw war spending…. More broadly, though, his example reveals the myriad and often undisclosed connections between the business of war and the business of covering it.”

[Read more…]

A My Lai a Month: How the US Fought the Vietnam War

Nick Turse, A My Lai a Month: How the US Fought the Vietnam War. The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, 21 November 2008. By the mid-1960s, the Mekong Delta, with its verdant paddies and canal-side hamlets, was the rice bowl of South Vietnam and home to nearly 6 million Vietnamese. It was also one of the most important revolutionary strongholds during the Vietnam War. Despite its military significance, State Department officials were “deeply concerned” about introducing a large number of US troops into the densely populated area, fearing that it would be impossible to limit civilian carnage.”

Yet in late 1968, as peace talks in Paris got under way in earnest, US officials launched a “land rush” to pacify huge swaths of the Delta and bring the population under the control of the South Vietnamese government in Saigon. To this end, from December 1968 through May 1969, a large-scale operation was carried out by the Ninth Infantry Division, with support from nondivision assets ranging from helicopter gunships to B-52 bombers. The offensive, known as Operation Speedy Express, claimed an enemy body count of 10,899 at a cost of only 267 American lives. Although guerrillas were known to be well armed, the division captured only 748 weapons.

In late 1969 Seymour Hersh broke the story of the 1968 My Lai massacre, during which US troops slaughtered more than 500 civilians in Quang Ngai Province, far north of the Delta. Some months later, in May 1970, a self-described “grunt” who participated in Speedy Express wrote a confidential letter to William Westmoreland, then Army chief of staff, saying that the Ninth Division’s atrocities amounted to “a My Lay each month for over a year.” In his 1976 memoir A Soldier Reports, Westmoreland insisted, “The Army investigated every case [of possible war crimes], no matter who made the allegation,” and claimed that “none of the crimes even remotely approached the magnitude and horror of My Lai.” Yet he personally took action to quash an investigation into the large-scale atrocities described in the soldier’s letter.

[Read more…]

Message Machine: Behind TV Military Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand

David Barstow, Message Machine: Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand. The New York Times, 20 April 2008. Part 1 of a two-part series. (Part 2, One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex: Barry McCaffrey’s World, 29 November 2008.) In a Pentagon campaign, “retired [military] officers have been used to shape terrorism coverage from inside the TV and radio networks.”

[Read more…]

The Man Who Sold the [Iraq] War

James Bamford, The Man Who Sold the War. Rolling Stone, 18 November 2005. (Available on Common Dreams.) Democracy Now!, 21 November 2005: “Investigative journalist James Bamford examines how the Bush administration and Iraqi National Congress used the PR firm Rendon Group to feed journalists — including Judith Miller — fabricated stories in an effort to sell the [Iraq] war.”

[Read more…]

The Man Who Knew Too Much: Jeffrey Wigand takes on Big Tobacco

Marie Brenner, The Man Who Knew Too Much. Vanity Fair, May 1996. “Angrily, painfully, Jeffrey Wigand emerged from the sealed world of Big Tobacco to confront the nation’s third-largest cigarette company, Brown & Williamson. Hailed as a hero by anti-smoking forces and vilified by the tobacco industry, Wigand is [1996] at the center of an epic multi-billion-dollar struggle that reaches from Capitol Hill to the hallowed journalistic halls of CBS’s 60 Minutes.

[Read more…]

The Truth of El Mozote, El Salvador

Mark Danner, The Truth of El Mozote. The New Yorker, 6 December 1993. “In a remote corner of El Salvador, investigators uncovered the remains of a horrible crime — a crime that Washington had long denied. The villagers of El Mozote had the misfortune to find themselves in the path of the Salvadoran Army’s anti-Communist crusade. The story of the massacre at El Mozote — how it came about, and why it had to be denied — stands as a central parable of the Cold War.”

[Read more…]

The Justice [Abe Fortas]…and the Stock Manipulator [Louis Wolfson]

William Lambert, The Justice…and the Stock Manipulator. Life, 9 May 1969. “In an investigation over a period of several months, LIFE found evidence of a personal association between [US Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas] and [stock manipulator Louis] Wolfson that took place after Fortas was seated as a member of the nation’s highest tribunal.”

[Read more…]

George Seldes on Health Hazards of Tobacco (1940-1950)

George Seldes, In Fact, 1940-1950. brasscheck.com: “In 1940, Seldes began publishing In Fact, a 4-page newsletter devoted to press criticism and investigative reporting. He subtitled the weekly ‘An Antidote to Falsehoods in the Daily Press.’ In the January 13, 1941 issue of In Fact, Seldes published his first cigarette story: a report about the 1938 study by Dr. Raymond Pearl of Johns Hopkins University that showed that heavy cigarette-smoking severely limited one’s life span.”

[Read more…]