The Defense Department recently announced it wants to provide wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with news in their hospital rooms. No, not CNN, MSNBC or even Fox. Instead, it’s piping its very own, 24-hour, all-news network, called the Pentagon Channel, to the bedsides of returning vets.
The Pentagon Channel features what officials call “CNN-like” programming. The difference, of course, is all of this “news” has been carefully created and vetted by the Pentagon. There’s “Studio Five,” for example, with positive interviews from top Defense leaders and “Freedom Journal Iraq,” a Pentagon-approved daily look at the war.
Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, keep in mind, doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to a free and open press. Last year, senior Pentagon managers ordered the department to exclude from its morning clip service newsmagazine articles which were critical of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. (Exceptions were made for rosier stories.)
Even top brass admits the Pentagon Channel isn’t there to provide objective news these soldiers can use. As one Pentagon official said, “The Pentagon Channel keeps us all connected with the mission and motivated to serve.”