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Hullabaloo


Monday, September 29, 2014

 
Can John Oliver Writer Scott Sherman Help Expose Gen. Zinni's Raytheon Connection? 

by Spocko

Hey Scott,

I'd love you to do a segment for John Oliver about how the network TV shows aren't telling the public that the retired generals selling the Syrian bombing and ISIS war actually work for the military contractors who profit from the war.
UPDATE: Cost of U.S. campaign against the Islamic State likely closing in on $1 billion

You might be thinking, "Didn't the New York Times already write this story after the Iraq war?" You are correct sir! It was written in 2008. Link  It was about the last war. Now there are all new retired generals for this war.

Here's the TLDR of Dan Bastow's Pulitzer winning article:
All the networks got busted for their military analysts having financial conflicts of interest.
Then why does Last Week Tonight need to do a segment? Because they are at it again. And they are ignoring the people calling them on it. That's why we need you.

Two weeks ago Lee Fang of The Nation wrote Who’s Paying the Pro-War Pundits?  The retired generals going on the TV networks pushing for ISIS and Syrian bombing, drone strikes and more "boots on the ground." In most cases the networks didn't tell viewers that they actual worked for General Dynamics, Raytheon and whatever name Blackwater is calling itself this week.

Fang's piece built on an extensive 2013 report, Conflicts of Interest in the Syria Debate by the Public Accountability Initiative. I wrote to Fang and asked what the media response was. Nada.  The TV media ignore journalism critics because they can. "Ohh what are they going to do? Shame us in print? Ohhh I'm so scared." As you learned at the Daily show, it's harder for them to ignore comedy TV shows. That's why we need you.

They even tried to avoid the New York Times piece. My favorite comment from that piece was, "A spokeswoman for Fox News said executives 'refused to participate' in this article."

They had to deal with the Times piece because there was a financial conflict issue. Therefore the network lawyers, accountants and HR people were forced to act, even though the spokespeople didn't. And that is another reason we need you, not only will everyone at the networks watch the show, it now has a reputation of doing journalism and getting your viewers to act. (BTW, the FCC sends its hate.)

So how did the network's lawyers, accountants and HR people avoid the financial conflict of interest problems? Easy, they simply don't hire the generals to be their military analysts anymore! Clever boots eh?

Networks accountants love it, they save money and don't need to send out all those pesky 1099 forms! Plus, since the generals aren't employees, they don't have to follow any annoying HR internal guidelines, corporate ethics rules or SEC reporting rules for a publicly traded company. The retired generals are now just 'guests' with opinions!

What this tells us is that unless the TV networks have some sort of legal or financial pressure, they'll continue to cover for the people making money on this war.

But does it really matter if everyone knows? When I tell savvy news consumers this they say, 'Well duh, of course they work for a military contractor. So what? What general ISN'T for more war?"

It might be different if during this run up to the bombing and war the TV networks did even the minimal, "both sides" game. Did we hear from veterans against the war or historians talking about the disastrous blow back consequences of war?

Every time they talked about those ISIS beheadings did they 'balance' it with heart breaking videos of innocent children being killed by US drone strikes?

Why not? Because there is no money in peace for the network. Plus it might upset the former military guests, who count on the media to let them tell their story to the public like one big infomercial.
(Side note: If these "news" shows were classified as an infomercial or as a celebrity endorsement, the FTC would be overseeing it. Fox News' own FTC Standards and Practices rules make it clear the lack of disclosure would not be allowed. See pages 6, 10, 11, 20 and 21)
For example, look at retired General Jack Keane. He's a Director of General Dynamics. He is paid in stock. More war, more product sold, stock goes up -- he makes more money.

TV journalists aren't identifying these connections even though:
They'll blow off the journalists, the FCC and ignore their own admission of blowing it last time. They follow FTC regulations for now because if they don't it costs them money.

But they won't blow off you guys. The next day all the internet will be aflame with the video, 'John Oliver Eviscerates TV Journalists' Excuses" or "Watch John Oliver Destroy Network News Divisions" And your readers will all be tweeting to the TV networks things like:
@ABC @GStephanopoulos When talking about #syriaairstrikes why don't you tell viewers Gen Zinni works for .@Raytheon, the missile's maker?
I'd like to think that massive public attention of their complacency would help because it would give the public something specific to ask the TV network journalists, producers and bookers to do, since, 'Do your fucking job!" isn't working.

As your old boss once said to the hosts on Crossfire, "Stop. You are hurting America." They are at it again. It's your turn now.