The piece is worth quoting at length:
One of these men in particular — NBC News military analyst and retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey — has appeared on MSNBC at least 10 times in the past month to criticize Obama’s proposed troop-withdrawal deadline, to lavish praise upon Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, and to underscore the importance of training Afghan security forces.
But neither McCaffrey nor the MSNBC anchors ever mentioned the fact that McCaffrey sits on the board of directors of DynCorp International, a company with a lucrative government contract to train the Afghan National Security Forces. Nor did they mention that McCaffrey recently completed a report about Afghanistan that was commissioned by Petraeus and funded by the Pentagon.
Bassett points out that DynCorp’s Afghan contracts make up more than half its $3.1 billion annual revenue, but “McCaffrey continues to be presented as an objective expert” on cable news.
Another whammy quote:
Last year, the Society of Professional Journalists called on NBC to sever ties with military analysts that could personally profit from the shaping of public opinion.
“By failing to be forthright and transparent, these networks — which are owned by General Electric, a leading defense contractor — are giving the public powerful reasons to be skeptical about their neutrality and credibility,” said Andy Schotz, the chairman of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Ethics Committee.
NBC has ignored the SPJ’s call. A spokesperson from NBC said that McCaffrey’s biography on the MSNBC website details his involvement with DynCorp and other corporations, but she declined to comment about why anchors do not identify McCaffrey as a Pentagon contractor or defense contracting consultant when he appears on their shows.
So, in case this hasn’t sunk in yet: A man who is personally making money off the war in Afghanistan is appearing on cable news to offer viewers his “objective” take on the war, with no indication of any potential vested interest.
Moreover, NBC is failing on a more rudimentary journalistic level. When positioning a commentator with analysis, general journalistic practice is to attribute why this person is informed-on and relevant-to the subject. If McCaffrey were discussing the Afghan war, the most important piece of biographical info about him wouldn’t be that he’s a “retired general,” but that he’s actively involved in the war.
As NBC told the Times’ David Barstow, who won a Pulitzer for his reporting on NBC’s pro-war propaganda machine:
“We have clear policies in place to assure that the people who appear on our air have been appropriately vetted and that nothing in their profile would lead to even a perception of a conflict of interest.”
That statement didn’t hold water then, and there’s ample evidence now that it still rings hollow.