Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bush's Walter Durantys

"In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantanamo Bay. ... The administration's communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put together 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 Guantanamo. ... 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. ... 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. ... Analysts have been wooed in hundreds of private briefings with military leaders, including officials with significant influence over contracting and budget matters, records show. They have been taken on tours of Iraq and given access to classified intelligence. They have been briefed by officials from the White House, State Department and Justice Department. ... Several analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access. ... Several analysts strongly denied that they had either been co-opted or had allowed outside business interests to affect their on-air comments", David Barstow (DB) at the Houston Chronicle, 20 April 2008.

This is news DB? Get serious. The NYT should not be surprised. This is standard operating procedure in Washington and New York. Nothing an "independent analyst" says should be taken at face value. In any field. Not newspapers either, not even the NYT. From 1922 to 1936 Walter Duranty (WD) was the NYT Moscow bureau chief. WD became known as Stalin's aplogist in denying the existence of Stalin's Ukranian starvation program. The NYT claimed Fidel Castro was not a Communist, just an agrarian reformer. A NYC joke in about 1960 had Fidel's picture on a NYC subway advertisement with the caption, "I got my job through the New York Times". What's the big deal here? Some analysts went on Iraqi "Potemkin Village" tours. WD saw Potemkin villages. So? Governments select experts to advocate existing policy, not challenge it.

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