On Sunday, the New York Times outed the Pentagon's "military analyst program," an extensive effort to cultivate retired military officers as "message force multipliers" or "surrogates" spouting Bush administration talking points on Iraq and other hot-button issues. We've compiled a list of known participants, and started SourceWatch profiles on each. Can you help us uncover more about the Pentagon's pundits? What did they say, on what news programs?
Perhaps, in the case of Armstrong Williams, the third time will be the charm.
The first two official investigations failed to hold anyone accountable for what can only be described as a textbook case of government propaganda. The results of the third investigation, by the Federal Communications Commission, were announced recently (PDF file). The FCC found Williams and two media companies to be at fault, issuing a citation against Williams and proposing fines of $40,000 against Sonshine Family Television and $36,000 against Sinclair Broadcast Group.
The business of pro-war propaganda is booming as "Freedom's Watch" joins Vets for Freedom, Move America Forward and other pro-war advocates for a stepped up war in Iraq in line with the Bush/Cheney Global War on Terror.
Ari Fleischer, former White House PR flack who jumped ship into the private sector shortly after the 2003 US invasion, is the public face and a founding board member of Freedom's Watch, which is being rolled out this week with emotional advertisements featuring wounded veterans imploring Americans to keep the money flowing for the occupation.
One such advertisement is up on YouTube. Once again the war in Iraq is being falsely linked to and justified by the terror attacks of 9/11, one of the Bush Administration's Big Lies that was was used to mislead America into war. In the Freedom's Watch advertisment on YouTube a war vet with prosthetic legs beseeches:
Martin Durkin, the director of the global warming sceptic film, The Great Global Warming Swindle, concedes that a graph he used of temperatures over the last thousand years ignores data from the last twenty years. In Durkin's film the endpoint of the graph, produced by a British academic back in the 1980's, is labelled "now".
Former media mogul Conrad Black has been convicted by a Chicago jury of three counts of mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice and could face up to 35 years in prison for looting his former company, Hollinger International, of tens of millions of dollars.
Before his downfall, Black was a smaller-scale version of Fox-TV owner Rupert Murdoch, building a media empire that he used to inject his right-wing views into U.S., Canadian, British and Australian politics. He pumped money into the pockets of the neoconservative pundits who helped sell the war in Iraq and gave them prominent voice in his own newspapers.
Karl Grossman, a professor of journalism at the State University of New York and host of the nationally aired TV program Enviro Close-Up, recounts that the "overwhelming majority" of the pitches he and his producer receive are from "conservative public relations companies promoting conservative guests." Grossman observes that "in terms of volume and intensity, there's nothing comparable from the progressive world.