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.”

Excerpt from story:

In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantánamo Bay. The detention center had just been branded “the gulag of our times” by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure.

The administration’s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo.

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, an examination by The New York Times has found….