The Flog of War

Friday, December 12, 2008


Not once, but twice in the last year, New York Times reporter David Barstow has written extensive front page stories about the conflicts of interest afflicting military experts paid to appear on television news. Charles Kaiser of the Columbia Journalism Review explains why despite this reporting, the use of military experts remains unchanged, a true SNAFU.

Comments [5]

Sherry from Oregon

And they wonder why people no longer trust MSM? This and the next 2 stories are perfect examples of why media and journalism is dying. And someone wants tax dollars to fund them so they can keep doing it......... Give Me a Break!!!

Dec. 16 2008 12:16 AM
Matt from Arlington, Virginia

On this story I am continuously surprised at OTM's objection to the press putting the foremost experts on a subject on the air. I know that the embed program put back the policy efforts of many editorialists, but that is no reason to exclude experts at the highest level of military leadership from interacting with reporters at the highest level i.e. network news.
General MCCAFFREY'S analysis and subsequent interaction with Brian WILLIAMS was so on point that merely revealing the inside baseball from McCaffrey's perspective was a scoop compared to the outside looking in perspective of other commentators.

If the standard required to be put on the air is performing the function of an honest broker of information, then General McCaffrey is head and shoulders above Barstow and Kaiser. And for the record, I think that we all can agree that being an honest broker is quite separate from stars on the shoulder and a chest full of ribbons.

Dec. 16 2008 12:07 AM
chuck thompson from Anchorage

If finding sources for OBJECTIVE commentary on military misadventures were really difficult, I might have no objection to hearing a little SUBJECTIVE commentary from someone having a vested interest in the subject (provided that his/her interest were fully disclosed and explained in terms a layman could comprehend), but that's hardly the case here.

One has to wonder why NBC -- or Fox or anybody else -- keeps insisting on employing the "expertise" of those who clearly have agendas -- or even, dare I say, crusades? -- from which they stand to benefit, either monetarily or politically. Is there a subtext we're not hearing? Is there a hidden agenda on the part of corporate media? What's up, really?

At 1:16 into this story, and in response to the direct question "How do you see the future of Iraq?" the audio clip of McCaffrey records him as saying "Well, objectively, the snapshot is extremely good .... "

OBJECTIVELY? Did he really say "objectively?"
If he hadn't sounded so serious, I would have laughed out loud.
Actually, I did anyway.

Has NBC's ratings and standards sunk so low that they're now trying to emulate Fox?
If so, why?

Dec. 15 2008 01:39 PM

There are complicated issues (Kosher gelatin? Dinosaur sex? Gary Busey?) but this ain't one of them: a simple disclaimer, ie "the general runs a company that sells bombs" or whatever, and get on w it. Like Bloomberg already does w every story.

Dec. 13 2008 11:46 PM

What a sophomoric giggle-fest.

Guy 1: That 4-star general reporting on the war sure is a conflict of interest.
Guy 2: NO! really (giggle, giggle).

Guy 1: Yeah, and NBC pays him!
Guy 2: smirk; giggle.

Who exactly do you expect to provide insight, Joe the plumber?

Dec. 13 2008 04:57 PM

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