A new New York Times article reveals that the Pentagon has wooed military analysts with private briefings and access to classified information “in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance.” Most of these analysts have ties to contractors who are “vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air,” and many admit that they suppressed doubts about the administration’s misinformation out of fear of jeopardizing their access or contracts:
The documents released by the Pentagon do not show any quid pro quo between commentary and contracts. But some analysts said they had used the special access as a marketing and networking opportunity or as a window into future business possibilities.
Over time, the Pentagon recruited more than 75 retired officers, although some participated only briefly or sporadically. The largest contingent was affiliated with Fox News, followed by NBC and CNN, the other networks with 24-hour cable outlets. But analysts from CBS and ABC were included, too. Some recruits, though not on any network payroll, were influential in other ways — either because they were sought out by radio hosts, or because they often published op-ed articles or were quoted in magazines, Web sites and newspapers. At least nine of them have written op-ed articles for The Times.
These analysts were also instructed to not “quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon.”