Glenn Greenwald has a post about NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams’ response to the New York Times military analyst story. Ok, that is a bit convoluted, so let me try to clear this up. First of all, the New York Times on April 20th ran a story exposing the complicity of the “independent” military experts used by various news agencies and the Pentagon. It is very likely that the Pentagon program was illegal. Not only that, but these military generals frequently had various conflicts of interests, none of which was hinted at by the networks on which they appeared to viewers. The goal of the Pentagon program was to use the generals as “message force multipliers” (no, I’m not making that up, it is what the Pentagon called them).
This story has been met by the mainstream news media with almost complete silence. There have been a few mentions in the mainstream media, but for the most part it has been blacked out. The major networks just won’t talk about it. In fact, there are now some clocks about it.
In one of the ways that old world meets new, Brian Williams now has a blog. He took some time to knock some of the more gossipy stories in the New York Times and expresses his thoughts that former Reagan speech writer and current Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan should get a Pulitzer prize for commentary.
In one of the great moments of web 2.0, Glenn writes a post about this and causes a virtual mob to descend on Williams’ blog until he finally addresses the Pentagon “message force multiplier” story.
In doing so, Williams displays more of the jaw-dropping insipid behavior it took him to be completely silent about the story to begin with.
To get insight into this behavior, we must look at the institutional structure of the mainstream media. I posted this before, but it bears a view if one hasn’t seen it already.
It is important to realize that we don’t have a liberal media. But, if you believed that wasn’t true, where would you get the evidence? How would you notify others of your findings? How could you dissuade people who hear the numerous assertions from mainstream and right-wing channels constantly asserting the opposite with various anecdotal cases? The voices have always been there, they have just been buried. The dominant narrative is the one most often repeated, just keep connecting liberal and media, eventually people will believe it.
One of the best counter-examples of the liberal media is NBC’s flap with Arianna Huffington. NBC confirmed that she wouldn’t be booked on any NBC-affiliated show to promote her book. Is this because of criticism of Tim Russert on her site the Huffington Post? Whatever the behavior, it certainly isn’t liberal.
In short, certain messages are multiplied. Others are ignored. Some are dismissed. Still some are demandingly challenged. It is not a matter of standards, it is a matter of agenda. There is a reason why the mainstream media gives equal time for lies, others are allowed in but placed under constraints of concision, and others are allowed to opine endlessly. We then reach the inescapable fact, the news media does what it sees in its interest which is profit. And for some, like those in the media, war can be very profitable.