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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 02:15 PM
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Robert Parry: US News Media's Latest Disgrace
Edited on Mon Apr-21-08 02:27 PM by seafan
(Parry allows unlimited use of his work from consortiumnews.)

US News Media's Latest Disgrace

By Robert Parry
April 21, 2008

After prying loose 8,000 pages of Pentagon documents, the New York Times has proven what should have been obvious years ago: the Bush administration manipulated public opinion on the Iraq War, in part, by funneling propaganda through former senior military officers who served as expert analysts on TV news shows.

In 2002-03, these military analysts were ubiquitous on TV justifying the Iraq invasion, and most have remained supportive of the war in the five years since. The Times investigation showed that the analysts were being briefed by the Pentagon on what to say and had undisclosed conflicts of interest via military contracts.
Retired Green Beret Robert S. Bevelacqua, a former Fox News analyst, said the Pentagon treated the retired military officers as puppets: It was them saying, we need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you. (NYT, April 20, 2008)


If they play ball with the Pentagon, they get fat salaries serving on corporate boards of military contractors, or they get rich running consultancies that trade on quick access to high-ranking administration officials. If theyre not team players, theyre shut out.
Yet, what may be more troubling, although perhaps no more surprising, is how willingly the U.S. news media let itself be used as a propaganda conduit for the Bush administration regarding the ill-advised invasion of Iraq.

Fox News may have been the prototype of the flag-waving news outlet that fawned over pro-war retired military officers and mocked anti-war citizens.
But the same imbalance could be found at the major networks, like NBC where then-anchor Tom Brokaw spoke in the first person plural as he sat among a panel of retired brass on the night of the Iraq invasion March 19, 2003 and said: "In a few days, we're going to own that country."
The blame also goes far beyond the TV networks, to the most prestigious print publications. The New York Times famously promoted fictional stories about Iraqi aluminum tubes for building nuclear weapons, and the Washington Post editorial page remains to this day an ardent cheerleader for the war.

So, the real question is not how widespread the ethical lapses of the U.S. news media were both in palming off self-interested ex-generals as objective observers and for failing to demonstrate even a modicum of skepticism in publishing false articles that paved the way to war.
Rather, the urgent question is what must be done if the United States is to reclaim its status as a functioning constitutional Republic in which a reasonably honest news media keeps the public adequately informed.


The Reagan Era

The scope of the problem dawned on me in the late 1980s, as I watched the widespread criminality of the Iran-Contra and related scandals ranging from money-laundering, gun-smuggling, drug-trafficking and acts of terrorism get swept under the rug because they implicated senior U.S. officials.
During those years, I witnessed the Washington press corps which still basked in the glory of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers rushing headlong toward becoming little more than a propaganda funnel for the powers-that-be.

Indeed, in 1992, my first book, Fooling America, argued that the Watergate-Vietnam-era press corps was undergoing a historic transformation into a snarky conveyor of ill-considered conventional wisdom.


Behind the scenes, the Reagan administration had constructed a domestic framework modeled after CIA psychological warfare programs abroad. The main difference this time was that the psy-op took aim at the American people with the goal of managing how they perceived events, what insiders called perception management.

From documents that I uncovered during the Iran-Contra scandal, it was clear that the motive behind this extraordinary operation was the bitterness that conservatives felt toward the mass protests against the Vietnam War and toward American journalists whose reporting supposedly had undermined the war effort.
So, Ronald Reagans team made it a high priority to rein in troublesome journalists and to reverse the so-called Vietnam Syndrome, the American peoples revulsion over any more foreign military adventures.

The documents revealed that the domestic operation took shape in the early 1980s under the guidance of CIA Director William Casey, who even donated one of the CIAs top propagandists, Walter Raymond Jr., to manage the program from inside President Reagans National Security Council staff.
Other factors fed into the success of this propaganda operation, especially the rise of a bright group of political intellectuals known as the neoconservatives. They proved especially adept at using McCarthyistic tactics to marginalize and silence dissent.

The crowning achievement of this decade-long effort came during the first Persian Gulf War of 1990-91. President George H.W. Bush believed that a successful U.S.-led ground offensive could finish the job of bringing the American people back from their post-Vietnam malaise.
However, after months of devastating aerial bombings, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had persuaded Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to withdraw his troops from Kuwait with no more killing, and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf and other front-line U.S. commanders favored the deal.

But Bush rebuffed the offer, instead ordering the ground attack that slaughtered tens of thousands of fleeing Iraqi troops during a 100-hour campaign. (For details, see the Colin Powell chapter of Neck Deep.)

When the ground war ended, Bush offered an insight into his central motivation. In his first comments about the U.S. victory, he declared: By God, weve kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all.


Repeating History

In the investigation of how the Pentagon used TV military analysts to sell the Iraq War thus allowing George W. Bush to complete the job left unfinished by his dad the New York Times also traced the administrations P.R. theories back to the Vietnam War and to the early days of the Reagan era.

Many (TV military analysts) also shared with Mr. Bushs national security team a belief that pessimistic war coverage broke the nations will to win in Vietnam, and there was a mutual resolve not to let that happen with this war, the Times reported in the article by David Barstow.
This was a major theme, for example, with Paul E. Vallely, a Fox News analyst from 2001 to 2007. A retired Army general who had specialized in psychological warfare, Mr. Vallely co-authored a paper in 1980 that accused American news organizations of failing to defend the nation from enemy propaganda during Vietnam.
We lost the war not because we were outfought, but because we were out Psyoped, he wrote. He urged a radically new approach to psychological operations in future wars taking aim not just at foreign adversaries but at domestic audiences, too.

He called his approach MindWar using network TV and radio to strengthen our national will to victory.

But the danger of MindWar, aimed by the U.S. government at the American people, is that it turns inside-out the concept of a democratic Republic in which a well-informed people exercise meaningful control over their government.

Instead, you end up with a duplicitous government using propaganda, fear and intimidation to whip the people into line. Rather than the government being the servant of the people, the people become the servant of the government.
Then, as undemocratic regimes have shown throughout history with the voice of the people silenced insiders get a free hand to carry out foolhardy policies and to line the pockets of their friends.
With the U.S. taxpayers now looking at an open-ended Iraq War with the total cost possibly reaching $3 trillion, it shouldnt be too hard to figure out who the winners were in this MindWar.

Often they were the same TV military analysts and news media pundits who were advocating for the invasion more than five years ago. Almost everyone of them has made out like bandits, many with fat stock portfolios and posh vacation homes, not to mention appreciative CEOs back at corporate central.
The losers should be equally apparent. Besides the fleeced American taxpayers, there have been more than 4,000 U.S. soldiers dead, another 30,000 wounded, and hundreds of thousands of dead and maimed Iraqis.

This bloody march of folly began some three decades ago when the U.S. news media began surrendering its responsibility to keep the people informed and instead opted for the easier and more lucrative role of acting as propagandists for the powerful.

The New York Times article is just further proof of that sorry reality.

Here is the Times article to which Parry refers:

Behind TV Analysts, Pentagons Hidden Hand

A PENTAGON CAMPAIGN Retired officers have been used to shape terrorism coverage from inside the TV and radio networks.

NY Times

April 20, 2008

In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantnamo 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 administrations 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 Guantnamo.

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 administrations wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.

The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.

Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administrations war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.

Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.


But, the rest of the world were not fooled by George W. Bush and his propaganda.

The Art of Deception

Ricardo C. Amaral
April 2003


People are watching different wars on television. Depending on where you are located, there are two wars going onthe one presented all around the world by the foreign media, and the other sanitized war presented to the American people by the American networks (in the US, from what I have seen so far, only the CNN, "BBC," the English television channel, and the Spanish television channels are giving war coverage more in line with the rest of the world media).
In the last two weeks, since the war started, most American cable and television networks have hired any retired general that they could find, since the American Civil War, to do their on-the-air analysis of the warfrom General Custer to General Tire, General Motors, General Electric and so on.

For a long time, US television programs have been very successfully distributed around the world. People from around the world love American movies. In many of these movies they show how the CIA uses many deceptive means to achieve their goals around the world. They show CIA agents involved in fighting against communism, drug dealers, in trying to destabilize what they perceive as unfriendly governments, or in fighting against some group which they tag as terrorists for one reason or another.
All these movies have many unintended consequences on audiences outside the US, such as the increased distrust of the American agenda of spreading democracy and capitalism around the world. They also learn through these movies about the many ways and techniques that Americans use to spread their ideologies to foreign lands.

In the minds of many foreign people these movies become proof of American deception against the rest of the world. These movies basically become a form of unintended propaganda against the CIA and the American government. I can see why people from other countries, after watching many of these American movies, would become suspicious of American intentions around the world.


The United States population is probably the most manipulated population on the face of earth, because they can be bombarded by the media with any information 24 hours a day, 7 days of the week. This information can be a true story or real information, or misinformation and propaganda. Most people do not step back and try to analyze any situation objectively.
Today few people do any rational thinking about most things. Most people just accept anything presented to them at face value and they feel powerless and irrelevant. Most of the time people accept anything in a very passive manner. This manipulation of news and information and the lack of profound analytic thinking is affecting the foundations of the American system.

For example, even its democratic system, and its Constitution and Bill of Rights are under attackthe current president, George W. Bush, was not elected by the people (a feature fundamental for a democratic system); he was selected by the highest court of the landThe US Supreme Court.

The power of the media

False information (misinformation and propaganda) becomes true information in the minds of even normally rational and smart people. I always wondered why Adolf Hitler was able to become so powerful in a nation such as Germanywhen the German people as a group (in terms of the intelligence of the average German), are considered the smartest people in the world. How was it possible to make these very smart people stop thinking and becoming just a herd of brainless sheep?
Only now, have I started understanding how that process works, when I saw various people in the American media, including Senator Joseph Biden, saying that after the first shot was fired, every American is supposed to be behind the President, and support the troops and the war effort. He also implied that Americans should stop any type of criticism against this war.

The German people in the 1930's, also a very patriotic people, probably became blind by the call for patriotism by their leader Adolf Hitler to build the most powerful army in the world. After you build such a powerful machine, there is the seduction of why not use it against other weaker people, and take over their countries.

I see on television all the time Americans asking themselves why people around the world hate us? They must be jealous of how rich and prosperous we are.
Let's stop for a moment and analyze the current world events not from the American perspective, but from the point of view of what the rest of the world might be seeing from their perspective.
Let's see if we can find a recent parallel in world history. For example: In the 1930's Hitler was building the greatest armed forces of his time. Then he decided to take over the rest of the world starting with Europe. The rest is history.


This administration has violated federal law: The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which 'prohibits the U.S. government from propagandizing the American public with information and psychological operations directed at foreign audiences...'

Rumsfeld's Roadmap to Propaganda

30 October 2003
The National Security Archive

Posted January 26, 2006

Washington, D.C., January 26, 2006 - A secret Pentagon "roadmap" on war propaganda, personally approved by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in October 2003, calls for "boundaries" between information operations abroad and the news media at home, but provides for no such limits and claims that as long as the American public is not "targeted," any leakage of PSYOP to the American public does not matter.

Obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archive at George Washington University and posted on the Web today, the 74-page "Information Operations Roadmap" admits that "information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa," but argues that "the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of USG intent rather than information dissemination practices."

The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, amended in 1972 and 1998, prohibits the U.S. government from propagandizing the American public with information and psychological operations directed at foreign audiences; and several presidential directives, including Reagan's NSD-77 in 1983, Clinton's PDD-68 in 1999, and Bush's NSPD-16 in July 2002 (the latter two still classified), have set up specific structures to carry out public diplomacy and information operations. These and other documents relating to U.S. PSYOP programs were posted today as part of a new Archive Electronic Breifing Book.

Several press accounts have referred to the 2003 Pentagon document but today's posting is the first time the text has been publicly available. Sections of the document relating to computer network attack (CNA) and "offensive cyber operations" remain classified under black highlighting.


Our media is beyond rehabilitation. It has been systematically destroyed.

It must be rebuilt from the foundation in order to serve the American people by accurately and vigilantly informing them of what is occurring in the world. It is the only way for the American people to reassert proper control over their government.

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Kolesar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 02:42 PM
Response to Original message
1. Video coming back from Vietnam was "in living color" with wounded soldiers bleeding red
...beamed right into our living rooms. It was quite powerful for turning people against the war. The video certainly was not like the black and white newsreels of WW2 or Korea.

However, from what I recall, the WW2 newsreels were not edited and censored to meet the government's point of view. That is to the credit of President Roosevelt.
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Winterblues Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 10:37 AM
Response to Reply #1
12. People were protesting long before those news videos were shown
There were Monks that set themselves on fire in 1966, long before Khe sahn or Tet. There were marches in the streets and hippies putting flowers in police and National Guardsmen's guns before any major battles had been shown on nightly news..Anti-war marches were only a part of the unrest of the sixties and they began early and lasted a whole decade..
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 02:45 PM
Response to Original message
2. And what is the media currently obsessed with? Lapel pins
Which surprises no one.
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Supersedeas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 03:33 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Joe Skankborough needs something colorful to talk about
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 06:22 PM
Response to Original message
4. Radio interview with Robert Parry of Consortium News
Mike Levine was an undercover DEA agent while Bob Parry was reporting on Iran-Contra.
Stream or download the mp3. /

When the terrorists were "our guys".

Listen (13 MB MP3)

"In 1976, when George H.W. Bush was CIA director, the U.S. government tolerated right-wing terrorist cells inside the United States and mostly looked the other way when these killers topped even Palestinian terrorists in spilling blood, including a lethal car bombing in Washington, D.C., according to newly obtained internal government documents."

So begins the Consortium News special report by Robert Parry which prompted tonight's interview. Parry is legendary for both his breaking of the Iran-Contra scandal and his groundbreaking investigative journalism.

Tonight, we have a freewheeling conversation with Bob Parry about everything from the special report above, to the state of media, Gary Webb and much much more.

About the guest:

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His new book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'


Consortium News

I volunteer to kidnap Ollie North by Michael Levine

Who's apologizing to Gary Webb? by Michael Levine

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happydreams Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 06:31 PM
Response to Original message
5. What happened to the Press? During the Watergate era
a fairly decent job was done covering it along with the Church and Pike Committee hearings on things like Operation Mockingbird and Operation Chaos....oops...I answered my own question. These investigations need to be re-opened at our earliest possible convenience.
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spanone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 06:34 PM
Response to Original message
6. bu$h* has made a farce of americas' democracy....and destroyed our press
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blm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 06:41 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Bush's cronies spent the 80s and 90s buying control of the corporate newsmedia so
they COULD get away for their crimes of office.

Those who uncovered and wirked to expose the corruption could be targeted as buffoons by the collective newsmedia - as they tried to do to Gore and Kerry.

It's a testament to both men's strength of character that they are still standing and serving this nation and the world.
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blm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 06:38 PM
Response to Original message
7. Great post, seafan - The Fascist control of the newsmedia is THE problem that must be faced
by this nation and any citizen who takes their responsibility to preserve its democracy seriously.
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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 07:03 PM
Response to Original message
9. These generals and brass don't serve the United States.
Thank you for a most excellent post, seafan.

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snot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 01:41 AM
Response to Original message
10. K&R'd
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cyberpj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-22-08 09:07 AM
Response to Original message
11. K&R
Not that many of us didn't already know - but that it needs a wider circulation. When will a majority of citizens stand up in outrage?

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