"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.
Flipping through the over 8,000 pages of documents released in connection with the program, one Pentagon pundit arguably steals the spotlight: Jed Babbin.
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.
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.
Netroots Nation, the annual conference for thousands of liberal bloggers, Democratic Party activists and liberal advocacy organizations is underway today, July 17, and through the weekend in Austin, Texas. In the decade since then-First Lady Hillary Clinton railed against the "vast Right Wing conspiracy," Democratic liberals have woven their own with dozens of new think tanks, lobby groups, funders like the Democracy Alliance and George Soros, scores of consultants and hundreds of millions of dollars raised and spent to grease the wheels of collaboration, all designed this year to win the White House and solidify control of the Congress.
Liberal bloggers are notorious dissenters and critics of mainstream Democratic policies, but there won't be much of that on formal display in Austin, nothing like the "Coffee with the Troops" which injected an unscheduled discussion of the Iraq War into last year's conference in Chicago. Potentially controversial issues including Dennis Kucinich's call for impeachment of President Bush, or the failure of the Democratic Congress to stop funding the war in Iraq, are off the official agenda at Netroots Nation.
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"
The U.S. government-funded Arabic news channel Alhurra "paid former Bush and Clinton administration officials, lobbyists and high-profile Washington journalists tens of thousands of dollars in U.S.
As Paul Schmelzer wrote on the Minnesota Independent website, "There were two National Conferences on Media Reform in Minneapolis over the weekend: the one I attended and the one Bill O'Reilly, Juan Williams and Fox News talking head Mary Catherine Ham didn't."
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?
During Sunday's closing plenary, FCC Commissioner and fake news foe Jonathan Adelstein pledged to push for multiple thorough investigations of the Pentagon military analyst program. So far, the Pentagon's Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, have launched inquiries into the Defense Department's secret cultivation of military pundits. But those investigations aren't enough.