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article imageOp-Ed: News fails to reveal major conflicts of interest in Syrian debate

By Justin King     Oct 14, 2013 in World
Last month, the news was full of pundits advocating “intervention” (that means bombing) in Syria. The guests gained credibility with titles like “Former National Security Adviser,” but their current positions may have been much more relevant.
It was not just television that was guilty of allowing this blatant conflict of interest. The Washington Post identified Stephen J. Hadley as a “national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration” when he wrote an Opinion-Editorial that claimed
U.S. military action in Syria must go beyond a few missile strikes designed to deter or degrade future chemical weapons use.
There was no mention of the fact that Hadley is now on the board of directors for Raytheon, the very company that would make the missiles used in the strikes. Even without the added production from a Syrian war, the company is set to sell 196 Tomahawk missiles for $325 million in FY 2014.
In this clip from ABC, James Cartwright is identified only as “Fmr Vice Chair, Joint Chiefs of Staff.” In the clip, he states that striking directly at the stockpiles of chemicals weapons might disperse the weapons and cause more casualties. Instead he advocates hitting buildings, facilities, and bridges. The United States Air Force’s BLU-119/B system is specifically designed to target stockpiles and not disperse them. The Air Force also has the CBU-107 weapon, of a different design, but similar outcome. Of course, neither of those weapons are manufactured by Raytheon, the company where James Cartwright is a director.
An example of a journalism warning label designed by Tom Scott
An example of a journalism warning label designed by Tom Scott
Tom Scott
While the two examples cited are both from Raytheon, most of the large defense contractors had a presence on the nightly news through those on their staff that are notable for their former positions. BAE Systems, Booz Allen Hamilton, General Dyanamics, Fox Rothschild LLP, and many others had commentators on CNN, Fox News, Bloomberg, or MSNBC.
As this report from the Public Accountability Initiative shows, other companies were more discreet. Think tanks associated with just about every company in the defense industry are represented. In 111 appearances, the conflicts were only disclosed 13 times.
As America loses faith in its government, faith in the media that seems to be simply acting as a mouthpiece for government and corporate interests is not far behind, as this poll shows. With more and more limitations being placed on journalists, this won’t come as a shock to many readers, but just appear as yet another nail in the coffin of journalism.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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