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November 29, 2009

Daily Beast lets former Pentagon shill promote screening of Muslim recruits

The Daily Beast ran an op/ed by retired colonel Ken Allard this weekend. Therein, he argues that the Fort Hood massacre shows why the U.S. military should screen Muslim recruits. "We shouldn’t make Muslims into a mysteriously protected class somehow exempt from scrutiny," Allard wrote.

Here's what the Daily Beast didn't tell us about Allard: He was one of seventy-five "military analysts" recruited by the Pentagon to parrot Bush administration talking points about the invasion of Iraq and torture.

The New York Times exposed this domestic propaganda program in 2008:

To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.

Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found. [NYT]

By the time the Times interviewed him, Allard blamed the Pentagon for misleading analysts in its secret briefings. However, he never apologized for engaging in domestic propaganda. On the contrary, when he publicly protested the Pulitzer Prize the New York Times won for the expose, Allard's main complaint was that he had already described the program in his book, "Warheads."

Allard's protest letter glosses over the two other key elements of the Times' scoop: i) That most of the analysts had ties to firms seeking federal defense contracts, and ii) That the analysts could command thousands of dollars per 3-minute soundbite from TV networks because they had exclusive access to Pentagon briefings, which could presumably be revoked if the higher-ups were dissatisfied with their performance.

This wasn't just a case of an agency giving preferential access to handpicked journalists. Documents obtained by the Times show, DOD treated the analysts as surrogates whose job was to disseminate administration talking points.

It's ridiculous that a man who has been already been exposed as a shill should be granted a platform to expound on matters of national security. The Daily Beast compromised its own credibility by running this op/ed without disclosing Allard's past as a Pentagon shill. Who knows who he's working for now?


"The Daily Beast compromised its own credibility . . . "

The Daily Beast has credibility? Who knew?

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