The weather here in Northeast Ohio really has been great these past few days. So I’m off the treadmill and back on the concrete for my morning runs. And without a garbage truck in sight this morning I had plenty of time to think about a few things. Here goes.
The New York Times printed an extensive article Sunday that raises some important questions. Namely, are the military pundits — those distinguished talking heads — that we see regularly on TV in bed with the Pentagon and defense contractors? Howard Kurtz looked at that situation in The Washington Post Monday. And Editor & Publisher opined yesterday as well. If true, guess who is getting screwed.
The New York Times article, “Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand,” is a long one. And you’ll need to read it to really understand the context for this next paragraph. But it will give you a sense for the story.
“Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used these analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.”
We spend a lot of time in my ethics class at Kent State talking about trust. If the allegations are true, then our trust in the administration and the news media takes another hit. It’s amazing that decision-makers can’t learn this lesson. Or maybe they don’t want to. And in this situation you would think that proper and timely disclosure would be all that is necessary. I’m sure I’m missing something.
But saying that — I wonder why it took The New York Times (or some other newspaper) five years to figure out that these retired military pooh-bahs might have conflicts of interest or be likely to receive special treatment by the Pentagon in return for special treatment on the airwaves? McCain’s right. This is going to be a 100-year war. Particularly if the few remaining strong media outlets — The Times, etc. — don’t have the resources or interest to question everything about this debacle in Iraq.
Then maybe The Times isn’t so strong financially anymore. An article in the New York Post yesterday focused on the rumors that The Times might be receptive to hooking up with Bloomberg LP. The article says:
“Bloomberg [New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg] aides are reportedly encouraging him to consider merging financial-information giant Bloomberg LP with the Times, which is under pressure from dissident shareholders to revive ad sales and unload assets to boost its sagging share price.”
So it goes.