Wednesday, April 30, 2008

When The Generals Lied - Part V - Brian Williams is Lit Up by Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald takes Brian Williams to the woodshed and gives us a fitting addition to our series about the generals who lied...

Like Fox and CBS, NBC News outright refused to answer any questions about the allegations when asked by the NYT's David Bartsow, and its prime time anchor, Brian Williams, has delivered seven broadcasts since the story was published and has not uttered a word to NBC's viewers about any of it. Yesterday, I wrote about an entry on Williams' blog -- which he calls "The Daily Nightly" -- in which Williams found the time to mock one frivolous cultural puff piece after the next in the Sunday edition of the NYT, even as he still had refused even to acknowledge the expose in last Sunday's NYT that calls into serious question the truthfulness and reliability of his "journalism."

After I wrote about Williams' blog item yesterday, his blog was deluged with commenters angrily demanding to know why he has failed to address the NYT expose. In response, Williams wrote a new blog item last night in which he purports -- finally -- to respond to the story, and I can't recommend highly enough that it be read by anyone wanting to understand how our establishment journalist class thinks and acts.

The essence of Williams' response: he did absolutely nothing wrong. Nor did any of the military analysts used by NBC News. Nor did his network. These are all honest, patriotic men whose integrity is beyond reproach. Here's but a sampling of Williams' defense:

A few of you correctly noted I’ve yet to respond to the recent Times front-page article on the military analysts employed by the television networks, including this one.

I read the article with great interest. I've worked with two men since I've had this job -- both retired, heavily-decorated U.S. Army four-star Generals -- Wayne Downing and Barry McCaffrey. As I'm sure is obvious to even a casual viewer, I quickly entered into a close friendship with both men. . . .

All I can say is this: these two guys never gave what I considered to be the party line. They were tough, honest critics of the U.S. military effort in Iraq. If you've had any exposure to retired officers of that rank (and we've not had any five-star Generals in the modern era) then you know: these men are passionate patriots. In my dealings with them, they were also honest brokers. . . .

At no time did our analysts, on my watch or to my knowledge, attempt to push a rosy Pentagon agenda before our viewers. I think they are better men than that, and I believe our news division is better than that.

Williams argues that the two retired Generals whom he identified in particular -- Downing and McCaffrey -- voiced "harsh criticism of the Rumsfeld Pentagon and the war effort." As proof, he cites a McCaffrey quote from 2006 -- more then 3 years after we invaded Iraq -- in which McCaffrey said there was a civil war there and that "it's a very bad situation, and it's getting worse." He also said Downing was angry that we didn't use more troops for the invasion.

You gotta love it when they squirm like this. It proves they've been trying to avoid listening to their conscience.

Greenwald even digs up that excellent Nation article I talked about--you know the one where they called all of the networks on this bullshit in 2003:

But far worse, the specific, undisclosed conflicts of both McCaffrey and Downing -- the two Generals cited by Williams to prove NBC did nothing wrong -- were disclosed more than four years ago by The Nation. And there is no way that NBC and Williams can claim not to have known about them, since The Nation described those ties as specifically as could be. Did NBC ask the Generals about these ties? Did they consider disclosing them to their viewers? Did the undislcosed ties violate NBC News policy? Does NBC have policies now to prevent this from happening again? Who knows? NBC refuses to comment on any of this.

In fact, it appears that NBC was informed of these specific conflicts by The Nation four years ago. From The Nation article:

The networks don't seem too concerned about what the analysts do on their own time. "We are employing them for their military expertise, not their political views," Elena Nachmanoff, vice president of talent development at NBC News, told The Nation. She says that NBC's military experts play an influential role behind the scenes, briefing executive producers and holding seminars for staffers that provide "texture for both on-air pieces and background." Defense contracts, she adds, are "not our interest."

Well, their little program is shut down. We'll be watching. And we'll scream bloody murder if they try this shit again.

A tip o the hat to the mighty trex for this story...

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