Big Media’s “stonewalling” of the New York Times’ story about the Pentagon’s “message force multiplier” scheme -- in which retired military analysts became TV shills of the Bush Administration’s Iraq/torture policies -- provides much grist to those upset with the corporatization of America’s media.
NBC parent General Electric, for instance, does billions of business with the U.S. government. A friend of this blogger notes, “It’s not very difficult to imagine the GE suits from Fairfield huddling with their NBC News lackeys and saying ‘Look boys, let’s just play along with Bush’s scheme.” He recalls Tim Russert’s interview with Dick Cheney prior to the Iraq invasion as “one softball after another.”
Though late in the game, the Democratic Congress is taking up the fight that Big Media has avoided. Reps. John Dingell and Rosa DeLauro have asked Bush operative Kevin Martin to do some real work at the Federal Communications Commission and examine whether the DOD program violated the Communications Act.
The Massachusetts senator sent a letter to Gene Dodaro, Acting Comptroller General, for an investigation about the “legality of this alleged covert practice, who was involved, how it operated, and its impact on media coverage.” More importantly, he wants to know “what steps need to be taken by Congress and by the Pentagon to ensure that this type of effort is not repeated.”
The Wisconsin senator believes the Pentagon should air its view on military operations freely and openly. “Potential covert production of press materials by the Defense Dept. would undermine full and open public debate on one of the most important matters facing this country, the war in Iraq,” wrote Feingold in his letter.
Times publisher “Pinch” Sulzberger recently said the New York Times Co. is not up for sale, and that his family operates its flagship paper in the public’s interest. The Pentagon story does the Sulzbergers proud.