Monday, April 21, 2008

Government's Goal? "Information Dominance."

THE NEW YORK TIMES reported on Sunday that the government has been feeding the media information through retired military leaders who work as consultants to media outlets. Here are a few sections from the amazing story:

Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who could be counted on to deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions.”

Though many analysts are paid network consultants, making $500 to $1,000 per appearance, in Pentagon meetings they sometimes spoke as if they were operating behind enemy lines, interviews and transcripts show. Some offered the Pentagon tips on how to outmaneuver the networks, or as one analyst put it to Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, “the Chris Matthewses and the Wolf Blitzers of the world.” Some warned of planned stories or sent the Pentagon copies of their correspondence with network news executives. Many — although certainly not all — faithfully echoed talking points intended to counter critics.

Did the media drop the ball by not checking the backgrounds of the military consultants they interviewed on air?

Is there a danger in the government infiltrating the media like this? Or is this no different that allowing a government official to speak their mind on air?


Ariela Rose said...

I think there is a danger in allowing the government to infiltrate the media in this way. This is different then allowing a government official to speak their mind on air because with these officials we know who they are, where they are coming from, and most likely what political views they are siding with. On the other hand, these military consultants seem like they are trying to sneak ideas and views in to influence the public towards certain points of view rather than remaining unbiased.

Aidan Walsh said...

There is absolutely a danger in the government dictating what the people on air's opinion are, especially if they just seem to be some random consultant. The media definitely dropped the ball on this one. Not checking sources anymore? Yeah, I'd say that's a mistake that should be corrected now and not repeated. This is on the level of the FDA employing people who either worked or are planning to work for the pharmaceutical companies. There needs to be a distinction.