Matt Taibbi: Completely Right

He totally nails it in Lara Logan, You Suck. In case you missed the context, Logan has become the de facto voice of “establishment” journalism that is shocked — Shocked! — that Rolling Stone’s Michael Hastings included the damning and insubordinate comments that sank General McChrystal’s career in his recent story.

Some choice bits:

Anyone who wants to know why network television news hasn’t mattered since the seventies just needs to check out this appearance by Logan. Here’s CBS’s chief foreign correspondent saying out loud on TV that when the man running a war that’s killing thousands of young men and women every year steps on his own dick in front of a journalist, that journalist is supposed to eat the story so as not to embarrass the flag.


See, according to Logan, not only are reporters not supposed to disclose their agendas to sources at all times, but in the case of covering the military, one isn’t even supposed to have an agenda that might upset the brass! Why? Because there is an “element of trust” that you’re supposed to have when you hang around the likes of a McChrystal. You cover a war commander, he’s got to be able to trust that you’re not going to embarrass him. Otherwise, how can he possibly feel confident that the right message will get out?

True, the Pentagon does have perhaps the single largest public relations apparatus on earth — spending $4.7 billion on P.R. in 2009 alone and employing 27,000 people, a staff nearly as large as the 30,000-person State Department — but is that really enough to ensure positive coverage in a society with armed with a constitutionally-guaranteed free press?

And true, most of the major TV outlets are completely in the bag for the Pentagon, with two of them (NBC/GE and Logan’s own CBS, until recently owned by Westinghouse, one of the world’s largest nuclear weapons manufacturers) having operated for years as leaders in both the broadcast media and weapons-making businesses.

But is that enough to guarantee a level playing field? Can a general really feel safe that Americans will get the right message when the only tools he has at his disposal are a $5 billion P.R. budget and the near-total acquiescence of all the major media companies, some of whom happen to be the Pentagon’s biggest contractors?

Taibbi makes another point:

[T]he reason Lara Logan thinks this is because she’s like pretty much every other “reputable” journalist in this country, in that she suffers from a profound confusion about who she’s supposed to be working for. I know this from my years covering presidential campaigns, where the same dynamic applies. Hey, assholes: you do not work for the people you’re covering! Jesus, is this concept that fucking hard?

Go read the whole thing. Really. (HT: @wilw)

One thought on “Matt Taibbi: Completely Right

  1. Not only are the networks tied to military contracts, Hollywood studios routinely make promotional films for the military, such as “Top Gun,” with the help of billions of dollars worth of military hardware loaned out for free to them for use as props. Pulp fiction writers such as Tom Clancy get all sorts of help from the military when researching their jack-off fantasy novels. Welcome to the Military-Industrial Complex, boy-o.