I assume everyone has read the report in the New York Times telling the story of how the Generals who gave independent assessments of the war in Iraq were fed their lines, monitored and punished with loss of access and contracts by the Pentagon?
â€œI saw immediately in 2003 that things were going south,â€ General Vallely, one of the Fox analysts on the trip, recalled in an interview with The Times.
The Pentagon, though, need not have worried.
â€œYou canâ€™t believe the progress,â€ General Vallely told Alan Colmes of Fox News upon his return. He predicted the insurgency would be â€œdown to a few numbersâ€ within months.
If you haven’t, go read it now.
Some Pentagon officials said they were well aware that some analysts viewed their special access as a business advantage. â€œOf course we realized that,â€ Mr. Krueger said. â€œWe werenâ€™t naÃ¯ve about that.â€
They also understood the financial relationship between the networks and their analysts. Many analysts were being paid by the â€œhit,â€ the number of times they appeared on TV. The more an analyst could boast of fresh inside information from high-level Pentagon â€œsources,â€ the more hits he could expect. The more hits, the greater his potential influence in the military marketplace, where several analysts prominently advertised their network roles.
â€œThey have taken lobbying and the search for contracts to a far higher level,â€ Mr. Krueger said. â€œThis has been highly honed.â€
No doubt it was all very innocent.
Mr. Di Rita, though, said it never occurred to him that analysts might use their access to curry favor. Nor, he said, did the Pentagon try to exploit this dynamic. â€œThatâ€™s not something that ever crossed my mind,â€ he said. In any event, he argued, the analysts and the networks were the ones responsible for any ethical complications. â€œWe assume they know where the lines are,â€ he said.