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Daily Democracy

Ryan Blethen discusses the press, media and democracy. Daily Democracy is part of the Democracy Papers, a series of articles, essays and editorial opinion examining threats to our freedoms of speech and the press.

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May 29, 2008 11:39 AM

Salesman General

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The lack of media scrutiny around the Pentagon's campaign using retired military generals to sell the Iraq war to American public is a shame. The New York Times broke the story last month. Yet there has been nary a word from broadcasters. Of course the cable news networks are mum because they let these generals prattle on about the upside of Iraq and how things really were not that bad for detainees at Guantanamo.

The Seattle Times has a Democracy Papers editorial today, which can be found here, about Congress wanting the Government Accountability Office to investigate the Pentagon's propaganda machine, which spit out these generals, who like good soldiers, said what they were told to say. The New York Times story also revealed that many of these retired generals work for companies with war contracts.

I always thought it was strange how much airtime these guys were getting. Watching them strut around a stage with a big map of Iraq under their feet was a bit unsettling. The generals were presented as all knowing and were used in the same way a journalist might be used. Why not have a journalist explain what is going on in Iraq and have him or her interview a general or two, while explaining to viewers where that source is coming from. The networks should have been checking out what connections the generals had outside of the studio. That did not happen, and makes them as culpable as the Pentagon.

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