"The Federal Communications Commission has begun notifying several TV military analysts that it is probing congressional complaints that the pundits did not properly disclose their ties to the Pentagon when reviewing the war in Iraq on air," reports Paul Bedard.
"Jed Babbin, one of our military analysts, is hosting the Michael Medved nationally syndicated radio show this afternoon. He would like to see if General [George W.] Casey would be available for a phone interview," the Pentagon staffer wrote. "This would be a softball interview and the show is 8th or 9th in the nation."
Why would the Pentagon help set up a radio interview? And how did they know that the interview would be "softball"?
From early 2002 to April 2008, the Defense Department offered talking points, organized trips to places such as Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, and gave private briefings to a legion of retired military officers working as media pundits. The Pentagon's military analyst program, a covert effort to promote a positive image of the Bush administration's wartime performance, was a multi-level campaign involving quite a few colorful characters.
Remember the New York Times expose on the Pentagon's use of retired military officers who frequently appear as "military analysts" on television and radio news shows? The program was launched in 2002 to help sell the Iraq war, but soon expanded to other controversial issues.
A U.S. House of Representatives committee has released a report investigating the White House's media management efforts over the death from friendly fire of Army Ranger Pat Tillman and the rescue from an Iraqi hospital of Private Jessica Lynch.
Daniel Libit of The Politico reports that "among the things that the proliferation of TV cable news has wrought is slackened standards for what constitutes a political strategist," a term which has lost its meaning now that it is "used as a catchall tag for a whole host of people with varied -- and often peripheral -- backgrounds in electoral politics." Jane Fleming Kleeb, a so-called "Democratic strategist"
O'Reilly's show tried to manufacture controversy about the conference, which I and others from the Center for Media and Democracy attended. But before addressing that, how about some real news on a genuinely controversial issue?