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FCC Probes Ties Between Military and Pundits

POSTED: 02:10 PM ET, 10/ 8/2008 by Derek Kravitz

The Federal Communications Commission has begun looking into allegations that the Pentagon recruited and, in effect, trained nearly two dozen retired military officers to promote the Bush administration's war policies in the news media.

A investigation published by The New York Times in May, "Message Machine," found that the Pentagon "used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration's wartime performance." Nineteen seemingly objective TV and radio analysts were given classified information and private briefings by senior White House, Justice and Defense Department officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney. And many of those analysts also had ties to military contractors, the Times reported.

The FCC earlier this month sent letters to people referenced in the Times' report asking for more information about the potential conflicts of interest. The FCC is focusing on whether the news outlets and the commentators violated federal rules for disclosing such potential conflicts.

"I'm glad we are looking into these allegations that there was a possible attempt to deceive the American people concerning one of the most controversial issues facing the country today," one of the FCC's commissioners, Jonathan S. Adelstein, said in a statement released yesterday. "We have an obligation to pursue this investigation, and to conclude it quickly."

The probe was sparked by Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) and Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) after the pair sent a letter (text) to the FCC.

The Defense Department's inspector general opened up its own investigation this summer, at the behest of Congress, U.S. News & World Report's Paul Bedard reports in his "Washington Whispers" blog.

Then, earlier this month, top FCC officials suggested that TV stations and networks might have violated two provisions of the Communications Act of 1934 by not identifying ties between the analysts and the Pentagon.

"The FCC is so far reaching out to the analysts mentioned in the New York Times article and asking for each to respond to the allegations of wrongdoing within 30 days," "Washington Whispers" reports.

In June, Adelstein spoke at a conference urging the agency to "conclude this investigation quickly" while criticizing the length of a two-year-long investigation into the Department of Education's payment of $245,000 to conservative commentator Armstrong Williams to promote President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act.

By Derek Kravitz |  October 8, 2008; 2:10 PM ET Other Investigations
Previous: Grand Jury Indicts Alleged Palin Hacker | Next: Despite Attacks, Business as Usual at AIG


Please email us to report offensive comments.

giving classified information to tv and media personalities:

hello, bob novak.

goodbye cia officer plame.

clearly illegal, and yet novak remains uncharged for outing her in the press.

propaganda to support illegal activities is fascist.

Posted by: bloggod | October 8, 2008 4:08 PM

Dingell and DeLauro are my nominees for the "DUH" of the week award...retired generals and admirals AUTOMATICALLY have financial ties to the Pentagon -- retired pay -- and will generally support whatever the Pentagon is doing without regard to the administration's position. And, yes, Virginia, retired flag officers have ties to contractors as well...

Posted by: Apostrophe | October 8, 2008 6:01 PM

If a Country's MOTTO is WE ARE ALL FOR BIZ'/Otherwise DO NOT DISTURB, and is has been found beyond any reasonable doubt, that politicians, bankers, lawyers, and the rest of them, are all for sale, how dear you , smart people of the World, pretend to get apalled at learning the fact that some Military (NOT ALL) who make much less than them, sometimes under more strain, wouldn't like to follow the Gang, and sell out their souls, UNDER THE WRONG ASSUMPTION MADE

Posted by: samurai3 | October 8, 2008 6:35 PM

No fine will undo the damage done.
During the Vietnam conflict we listened to the generals lie everyday. When we lost faith in the generals they called us names and blamed us for their inability to win the war.
Will they blame us now?

Posted by: SamEllison | October 8, 2008 6:49 PM

I want to know who these 19 people are.

Posted by: radio | October 8, 2008 9:28 PM

This program was a waste of government money. The media gladly played cheerleader for the war without being paid.

Posted by: troutcor | October 8, 2008 10:32 PM

We've been all over this at the History Commons:

Posted by: Black Max | October 9, 2008 12:59 AM

I blogged 24/7 at the NYT forums during the build up to the occupation of Iraq. Many there including myself felt the News Media was selling Bush's illegal war based on lies to the American people. The selling of lies to the American people is the worlds best kept secret. I am surprised this so called secret is open to investigation. come on now - it was patently obvious.

Posted by: 371961c | October 9, 2008 6:29 AM

America is cursing history and the USA brand-name until the world sees WAR CRIMINAL popping up on the front pages. Until then the USA is protecting its neo-Emperor.

Posted by: 371961c | October 9, 2008 6:39 AM

What is the use of FCC issuing licenses,if they can't take them away.Has anyone sent a complaint and got results?
Major media are owned by 6 corperations. Hint of corruption is when you never see Israel in badlight or Sept11/01 nuke attacks. Look closly,all owned/run by Israel firsters-zionists. Did you expect them to bad mouth the Iraq bombings or the actions of the Bush pro-Israel regime ?-Fools!
A hint of corruption should have warned you when out of the blue Colin Pqwel's son was appointed by Bush for the Chair FCC.
Where is the boy scum now? Suckers :^)

Posted by: george in toronto | October 9, 2008 7:29 AM

We wont be seeing this reported by any of the propaganda networks.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 2008 8:14 AM

This is actually old news. But I want to know their names too.

Washington Post Investigations? Where was the Washington Post in 2001? Rooting for Bush to invade Iraq and destroy the Constition. They are rag media organization.

Posted by: George of the jungle | October 9, 2008 8:33 AM

This is serious.

The Government using propaganda (psy-ops) on American citizens is a FEDERAL Crime.

Nuremburg told us that those who particpate in the promotion of a war are as GUILTY as those who planned it.

Blogger Green Greenwald at Salon has nailed Brian Williams of NBC News as one such War Criminal.

These media propagandists need to be put on trial for War Crimes. If guilty the penalty can be death.

Since I'm against the death penalty I'd plead for life in prison.

This includes virtually EVERY major broadcaster on cable and network TV.

Posted by: Bill from Chicago | October 9, 2008 9:30 AM

The names of the analysts and almost all of the reportage may be found at this url:

Posted by: Annie | October 9, 2008 11:41 AM

Good luck on getting on getting anybody charged with anything.
I expect the worst that'll come from it is a few moments of embarrassment for maybe several people.
The US is broken, the corruption is systemic, and the only way to fix it is a grassroots revolution, demanding accountability of The Whitehouse, the military, and the media.
At this point in time I don't think the citizenry at large has the will to do that, although Obama's present popularity, and the positive timbre accompanying his campaign, is a pretty decent indication that I'm as wrong as acid rain.

Posted by: Pete | October 12, 2008 11:51 AM

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