In tomorrow’s NYTimes you’ll find a 7,500 word “examination” by David Barstow on the dozens of retired Generals and Colonels who take to the cable and broadcast airwaves to inform Americans as “military analysts”. Barstow also writes about the “Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage.” The Times sued the Defense Department to gain access to 8,000 pages of documents as the basis for their story.
The documents refer to the analysts as “message force multipliers” who could be counted on to deliver administration “themes and messages.” One analyst even offered the Pentagon tips on how to outmaneuver the “the Chris Matthewses and the Wolf Blitzers of the world.”
Former MSNBC military analyst Ken Allard is among several TV talking heads interviewed for the story. “I felt we’d been hosed,” Allard said as conditions deteriorated in Iraq. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, said it is “a bit incredible” to think retired military officers could be “wound up” and turned into “puppets of the Defense Department.” Another, former FNC analyst Gen. Paul Vallely told The Times, “I saw immediately in 2003 that things were going south,” But on the air, at the time, Vallely told Alan Colmes, “You can’t believe the progress.” He predicted the insurgency would be “down to a few numbers” within months.
Barstow also evaluates whether the military analysts, many of whom worked for companies trying to gain contracts, were given special DOD access for their businesses. “Not related at all,” said CNN analyst Gen. Donald Shepperd. He pointed out that many in the Pentagon held CNN “in the lowest esteem.”
• How the networks deal with their military analysts’ outside business dealings, after the jump…