Domestic Propaganda and the News Media
Open-Content investigative project managed by mtuck
This is a news item pertaining to the Domestic Propaganda and the News Media investigative project, one of several grassroots investigations being hosted on the History Commons website. The data published as part of this investigation has been collected, organized, and published by members of the public who are registered users of this website.
5/31/2008: Examining the Pentagon Propaganda Operation
On April 20, the New York Times published a revelatory—and since then, largely ignored—article detailing the Pentagon’s systematic propaganda campaign to promote the Iraq war and manipulate public opinion through the use of retired military officers as “independent” network analysts and commentators. The citizen journalists and researchers at the History Commons quickly decided to explore and document this story in as much depth as possible, aggregating material from hundreds of sources to create a profile of the Pentagon campaign. The results of our examination—which is still ongoing—can be found here. We hope that our efforts will provide a useful resource for the press and for anyone interested in learning more about the Pentagon propaganda operation.
The profile of the Pentagon propaganda operation is incomplete. Much remains as yet unrevealed. Some of what we do know includes:
- The program was created by Pentagon public relations chief Victoria “Torie” Clarke. A marketing specialist and a former public relations flack for George H. W. Bush, Clarke saw the use of such “independent” analysts as a corollary to her program of “embedded” journalists in Iraq. The analysts would be “embedded” in network and cable news broadcasts just as press and television journalists were placed in US troop units. While the analysts are putatively independent and free to express their own views—and some are indeed critical of the Pentagon’s war strategies—at least 75 of the most prominently featured analysts are periodically briefed and indoctrinated by Pentagon officials, up to and including then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
- Serious questions have been raised about some analysts’ ties to defense contractors with financial interests in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait. Whether any analysts have profited from their work in spreading Pentagon propaganda over the airwaves, or whether the firms they represent have profited, are questions that have not yet been answered.
- Possible connections to the White House’s former political guru, Karl Rove, have been demonstrated, but the nature and depth of those connections have yet to be determined.
- By and large, the broadcast media have roundly ignored the story. Some print and Internet news outlets have followed the story, but because television news shows have not addressed the story with their audiences, it has had few “legs.”
- Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald is virtually the only mainstream journalist of any stripe following this story. He continues to keep this story alive to the best of his abilities.
The story is still developing. You are invited to keep checking in for updates. Even better, you are invited to contribute to this and other projects at the History Commons.