In early 2002, the Pentagon began cultivating retired military officers who frequently serve as media commentators, so that they would help make the case for invading Iraq. The pundit program continued -- promoting the Bush administration's stance on the Guantanamo Bay detention center, warrantless wiretapping and other hot-button issues -- until the New York Times exposed its existence in April 2008. The Times had obtained 8,000 pages of documents through a Freedom of Information Act request. Shortly after the Times story ran, the Pentagon made the same documents available on its website.
However, the documents released by the Pentagon were formatted in such a way that text searches could not be performed on them. This made systematic analysis of the information nearly impossible. The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a non-profit organization with a mission of exposing media spin and government propaganda, worked to make this information fully accessible to anyone with Internet access.
The Pentagon pundit documents
CMD has made text-searchable versions of the Pentagon pundit documents available:
- on SourceWatch, CMD's collaborative encyclopedia of the people, issues and groups shaping the public agenda; and
- on Scribd.com, a document-sharing website.
Note that the easiest way to search for a term across all of the Pentagon pundit documents is to go to this page on Scribd.com and use the "Search within the Pentagon pundit documents Group" option in the left sidebar.
Reporting on the Pentagon's pundits
The following are CMD reports on and analyses of the Pentagon pundit program and documents:
- Diane Farsetta, "Pentagon Propaganda Gets a Pass," July 23, 2009.
- Diane Farsetta, "Pentagon Pundit Exposé Gets the Pulitzer," April 20, 2009.
- Diane Farsetta, "Debating the Ban on Domestic Propaganda," February 2, 2009.
- Diane Farsetta, "An Officer and a Conflicted Man: McCaffrey, the Pentagon and Fleishman-Hillard," December 5, 2008.
- Daniel Haack, "Jed Babbin: The Pentagon's Most Prolific Pundit," August 19, 2008.
- Diane Farsetta, "Cracking the Pentagon Pundit Code," August 11, 2008.
- Diane Farsetta, "Pentagon Pundits, Media Reform and Talking Back to Bill O'Reilly," June 10, 2008.
- John Stauber, "Pentagon's Propaganda Documents Go Online, but Will the TV Networks Ever Report this Scandal?," May 6, 2008.
- Diane Farsetta, "What the Pentagon Pundits Were Selling on the Side: Propaganda Meets Corporate Lobbying," May 2, 2008.
- Diane Farsetta and Sheldon Rampton, "Pentagon Pundit Scandal Broke the Law," April 28, 2008.
- John Stauber, "Pentagon, TV Networks Fear Debating Iraq Propaganda Scandal - Stauber vs. Zelnick on NewsHour," April 25, 2008.
- John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, "Embedding Military Propagandists into the News Media," April 22, 2008.
In addition, CMD's SourceWatch website contains an entry on the program, which (among other things) lists all known participants, with links to profiles of many of them. If you would like to add information to this or any other SourceWatch article, you can register here, and learn more about how the site works here, here and here.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact CMD by phone at +1-608-260-9713 or by email at editorATprwatch.org (replace "AT" with "@").