By Elaine Magliaro
Last week, investigative journalist and co-founder of The Intercept Jeremy Scahill confronted CNN International host Hala Gorani with a harsh criticism of some of the world leaders who showed solidarity toward France…and of CNN’s handling of the recent terrorist attacks in that country. Scahill said, “Hypocrisy was on full display on Sunday, with all of these world leaders; many of them are enemies of the press, themselves…I also think that CNN and MSNBC and Fox are engaging in the terrorism expert industrial complex. You have people on as paid analysts that are largely frauds who have made a lot of money off of portraying themselves as terror experts, and have no actual on-the-ground experience.”
While Scahill told Gorani that he listened when she spoke because he believed her to be “credible”–he did not have kind words for some of the “terrorism experts” who are paid by her network. Scahill said, “Some of your paid analysts that you have on this network or other networks, basically are just making money off of the claim that they’re experts on terrorism and really don’t have the scholarly background or on-the-ground experience to justify being on your network or any other network.”
John Amato (Crooks and Liars) said that following the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks, cable news networks had invited a number of “terror experts” onto their programs to “impart their supposed wisdom on the subject.” Amato noted that too often these so-called “experts” have not been “vetted enough and either lack the necessary experience or are shilling their airtime to benefit their own company or one that they are associated with to turn a healthy profit for all those involved…”
During an appearance on Reliable Sources this morning, Jeremy Scahill reiterated his critique of cable news programs’ “habit of hosting ‘terror experts’ who have financial stakes in prolonged and expanded military conflicts.”
Excerpt form the Reliable Sources interview with Jeremy Scahill:
Brian Stelter: You’ve been highly critical of television news coverage of the war on terror for many years. I wonder if you think the coverage currently on the terror attacks in Europe and this investigation now underway is sowing too much fear in the audience, in the people watching at home?
Jeremy Scahill: CNN has some great reporters on the ground. Where I think it gets into this kind of fear-generating territory is when you have these so-called ‘terror analysts’ on the air, many of whom also work for risk consultancy firms that benefit from the idea of making us afraid.
I don’t think CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News do anywhere near a good enough job at revealing the potential conflicts of interests of some of the on-air analysts who also work in the private sector and make money off the idea that we should be afraid.
Scahill, who has spent many years investigating how the war contracting industry works, said that retired generals appear on CNN, MSNBC, FOX and “talk about a dangerous group in a particular country and they’re on the board of a huge weapons manufacturer or a defense company that is gong to benefit from an extension of that war, an expansion of that war.”
Scahill singled out General Barry McCaffrey:
Perhaps the biggest violator of that is General Barry McCaffrey, who has made a tremendous amount of money off of war contracting and then he’s brought onto these networks and treated as just an objective observer.
(NOTE: To learn more about General McCaffrey, I suggest reading One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex by David Barstow (New York Times).
Excerpt from Barstow’s article:
Many retired officers hold a perch in the world of military contracting, but General McCaffrey is among a select few who also command platforms in the news media and as government advisers on military matters. These overlapping roles offer them an array of opportunities to advance policy goals as well as business objectives. But with their business ties left undisclosed, it can be difficult for policy makers and the public to fully understand their interests.
On NBC and in other public forums, General McCaffrey has consistently advocated wartime policies and spending priorities that are in line with his corporate interests. But those interests are not described to NBC’s viewers. He is held out as a dispassionate expert, not someone who helps companies win contracts related to the wars he discusses on television.
The president of NBC News, Steve Capus, said in an interview that General McCaffrey was a man of honor and achievement who would never let business obligations color his analysis for NBC. He described General McCaffrey as an “independent voice” who had courageously challenged Mr. Rumsfeld, adding, “There’s no open microphone that begins with the Pentagon and ends with him going out over our airwaves.”
Glenn Greenwald appeared on Democracy Now! recently. He also provided his view of “terrorism experts.”:
GLENN GREENWALD: The concept of terrorism is a very widely debated concept all over the world, and there are incredibly divergent opinions, even about what terrorism is, about who it is who’s perpetrating it, about how it is that you define it and understand it, and whether or not there’s even a meaningful definition of the term at all. And yet you have all of these so-called terrorism experts employed by leading American television networks—all of them, really—and on whom most establishment newspapers rely, who are called terrorism experts and yet who are incredibly homogenous in their views, because they spout the very homogenized American conception of all of those questions.
It’s an incredibly propagandized term. It’s an incredibly propagandistic set of theories that they have. And that’s really what these media outlets are doing, is they’re masquerading pro-U.S. propaganda, pro-U.S. government propaganda, as expertise, when it’s really anything but. These are incredibly ideological people. They’re very loyal to the view of the U.S. government about very controversial questions. They certainly have the right to express their opinions, but the pretense to expertise is incredibly fraudulent. And that’s why they have not just Steve Emerson, the Fox News strain, but really all of them who are held up as the most prominent terrorism experts in the U.S. have a really shameful history of incredible error and all sorts of just very dubious claims, because they’re really just rank propagandists.