Tuesday, October 26, 2010

John Parker: Pentagon Reporters Give Up Watchdog Role for the Illusion of Being Part of Power

John Parker, Former military reporter and fellow of the University of Maryland Knight Center for Specialized Journalism-Military Reporting, writes:
The career trend of too many Pentagon journalists typically arrives at the same vanishing point: Over time they are co-opted by a combination of awe -- interacting so closely with the most powerfully romanticized force of violence in the history of humanity -- and the admirable and seductive allure of the sharp, amazingly focused demeanor of highly trained military minds. Top military officers have their s*** together and it's personally humbling for reporters who've never served to witness that kind of impeccable competence. These unspoken factors, not to mention the inner pull of reporters' innate patriotism, have lured otherwise smart journalists to abandon – justifiably in their minds – their professional obligation to treat all sources equally and skeptically.

Too many military reporters in the online/broadcast field have simply given up their watchdog role for the illusion of being a part of power...

Pentagon journalists and informed members of the public would benefit from watching "The Selling of the Pentagon," a 1971 documentary. It details how, in the height of the Vietnam War, the Pentagon sophisticatedly used taxpayer money against taxpayers in an effort to sway their opinions toward the Pentagon’s desires for unlimited war. Forty years later, the techniques of shaping public opinion via media has evolved exponentially. It has reached the point where flipping major journalists is a matter of painting in their personal numbers.


  1. Awe of the super-competent? Maybe. Awe of status, power and celebrity? Definitely.

    These reporters are not guilty of patriotic impulses- if they were they'd be hustling these military guys to find the details of what really happened on 911. They'd be "Truthers"; which means they'd also be thrown out.

    Its the age-old tale of mediocrity ass licking up the gravy train to satisfy their self-interest and ego needs to be "players". They want to get ahead and this is the way to do it.

  2. Competent? As the heads of a dept. that lost some 2.3 TRILLION dollars as reported in congressional hearings on 9-10-2001. Even the congressmen, not exactly examples of competent themselves, found it unbelievable that that kind of money could just be misplaced. Of course they were "lucky" enough to have the accountant's wing of the Pentagon destroyed the next day on 9-11, so they are off the hook.