Sunday, May 04, 2008

NPR's Fair and Balanced Explanation

Back in April NPR was caught with its Pentagon pants down. Seems one of NPR's favorite military analysts was the Foxy retired general and war profiteer, Robert Scales. As the NPR Ombudsman has noted Scales is a frequent voice on NPR. She relates that "Scales appeared on different NPR news shows -- a total of 36 times in 2003...." and "Since February 2003, he has been on NPR 67 times, most often (28 appearances) on All Things Considered (ATC)."

I wondered how NPR would handle this embarrassing revelation, and its now clear that it has opted for a page right out of the Bush playbook: do an in-house review and declare yourself innocent, or even worse, declare yourself justified. And so David Folkenflik declares on the May 1, 2008 edition of All Things Considered:
"Duffy also says Scales did nothing wrong, and that a review of his remarks, in which he was often critical of progress in Iraq, found he wasn't unduly influenced by the Pentagon."
Duffy happens to be Brian Duffy, managing editor of NPR news and his statement is quite a piece of work. So what disinterested third party conducted the review? NPR of course! - convenient, isn't it? And where is one shred of evidence to support Duffy's self-serving claim that Scales "was often critical of progress in Iraq" and "wasn't unduly influenced by the Pentagon"? I did quite a bit of snooping around in NPR's archives and found nothing. But I did find some very typical bits of Scales "useful analysis to our listeners" (to use Duffy's earlier words):
  • January 28, 2003 (as the US prepared to invade Iraq it was having trouble finding allies): (Scales) "the United States, militarily, is far more powerful....we already have bases in the region....and we're also facing a military situation that is a lot less daunting now than it was in 1991. So the need for allies or coalition partners to add overwhelming force is much less than it was." This is followed by Tom Gjelten who states that "Scales, a former commandant of the Army War College, argues that a smaller coalition this time may even work to the US' advantage." [This had to be music to Rumsfeld's ears; less than two months later he was quite the defensive secretary over the world's tiniest coalition.]
  • April 6, 2004 (the security situation in Iraq was fast unraveling for the US ): Eric Westervelt reported that Scales "says the US may have adequate numbers, but not the right type of troops, General Scales says it may be time for the US to create several large specialized quick reaction forces to respond more effectively to trouble spots. [Scales speaking] 'You need a sort of strategic reaction force that's able to respond to these types of emergencies and to pile on in these areas to try to quell the violence and normally that requires large doses of close combat and maneuver soldiers...' "
  • On November 8, 2004 as the US was launching its thorough destruction of Fallujah Scales says of the US assault "They're going to do several things...establish an airtight seal...prep the battlefield... artillery and aircraft dropping relatively small bombs to take out very discreet, very surgical targets in the city such as command and control." Scales, using the same language that Marine General John Sattler used on the eve of the destruction of Fallujah, states that "...the whole purpose of this assault is to break the back of the enemy resistance and principally to attempt to capture the foreign fighters who are the ones who are sort of leading the defense..."
  • On April 19, 2006, during the period when many retired generals were denouncing Rumsfeld's handling of all aspects of the Iraq war and occupation , Scales defends Rumsfeld, agreeing with Rumsfeld that the criticisms were about long term changes in the military. Scales says, "Well, uh, uh, certainly, the secretary has been an instrument of change. I don't think any of us doubt that. But I also contend that the change in the army began before he came on the scene." He goes further claiming that "This is not about Mr. Rumsfeld. This is not about disgruntled generals, it's really about what's in the national interest and that's where our focus was Steve. I mean the real question is to get on with the war, to look forward instead of backward and to figure out where we're going and to establish a secure Iraq that's defined by a free market economy, representative government, and most of all security."
  • On November 27, 2006 when the Iraq War exceeded the length of the US involvement in WWII, Scales had absolutely nothing critical to say about the conduct of the war, but instead launched into a paean for army sergeants ("They are the soul of our army, the glue that bonds fighting units together....) and a bit of nonsense about the post Vietnam war army ("...after Vietnam I saw my army collapse, broken, disheartened and abandoned by the American people. But this army isn't broken, at least not yet, why?)
So where is all that "critical of progress," "useful analysis" that Duffy touts? Hmm, I think somebody is not telling the truth...


Porter Melmoth said...

Great work, Mytwords, most helpful. If NPR predictably botched its own review, others, like you, will do it for them. They obviously think no one is noticing.


big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

Indeed, well researched and resourced. So unlike our nemesis.

Stick yer finger up yer arse, NoPR, and give yerself a raise.

War On War Off said...

Self-love is what NPR does best. Self-criticism...not so much.

Liberality said...

transparent? above board? are you kidding? Nationalist Propaganda Radio doesn't have to prove themselves as they are the gold standard, fools gold that is.

larry, dfh said...

Also, peter galbraith was a near-constant guest on npr before the war. Only later did he actually admit that he had been paid by the DOD to propagandize about how evil was saddam. galbraith is a war profiteer in my book, and npr is an enabler.

Anonymous said...

The ombudsman of NPR has been tested and has failed the test -- miserably.

The main -- and insurmountable -- problem is that she was hired and is completely beholden to NPR management.

NPR needs a total house cleaning.

The organization has become overrun by self-serving "war enablers" sucking down big salaries at public expense.

Everyone above the custodial staff level should be fired or the entire dishonest, propaganda-spewing organization should be shut down for good.