Tuned In

Armed Conflicts (of Interest)

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If you have more time on your hands than I do this morning, I recommend David Barstow’s New York Times opus about retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey and how, as an omnipresent military analyst for NBC News, he has advocated military policies that serve the interests of defense contractors—one of whom pays him to do just that, though his conflict goes undisclosed on-air. 

An earlier Barstow report on TV defense analysts and their conflicts was just a subject on The IFC Media Report, which went on to question why TV news in particular did not follow up on the New York Times expose. (After all, usually the front page of the Times ends up being a blueprint for that day’s cable and network newscasts.) So eyes are already trained to see whether there will be any TV coverage of the follow-up.

I can’t do Barstow’s article justice in a short space, but it’s worth noting how, besides the financial conflicts of military analysts, money plays a role on the other side of the transaction too. “Military analysts,” after all, proliferate across TV largely because—as with any other talking head—putting them on the air to hold forth is cheaper than on-the-spot reporting, especially when it comes to wars and international incidents. 

In related TV-networks-cheaping-out-on-news news, by the way, Aaron Barnhart at TV Barn has a beautiful video critique of how MSNBC bailed on reporting the terrorist attack in Mumbai over the weekend. But fear not: they have municipal parking violations covered!