News Release

Pentagon-Media Collusion?

Last week a former top CNN official defended his visits to the Pentagon for a “thumbs-up” on retired generals who were prospective CNN news analysts before the cable network hired them to provide on-air assessments of the Iraq war.

Former CNN news chief Eason Jordan — quoted in an article on the IraqSlogger.com site, owned by Jordan’s company Praedict — said that he was merely checking on expertise with the Pentagon on the eve of the invasion of Iraq.

But critics say that Jordan’s explanation last week is an attempt to justify improper collaboration between the Pentagon and TV news management.

Initially, during an appearance on CNN (April 20, 2003), Jordan stated: “I think it’s important to have experts explain the war and to describe the military hardware, describe the tactics, talk about the strategy behind the conflict. I went to the Pentagon myself several times before the war started and met with important people there and said, for instance –‘At CNN, here are the generals we’re thinking of retaining to advise us on the air and off about the war’ — and we got a big thumbs-up on all of them. That was important.” Jordan’s appearance is now on YouTube.

The explanation from Jordan last week came in response to a new documentary film, War Made Easy, which includes a critique of his seeking a “thumbs-up” from the Pentagon on potential CNN hires. The documentary is based on a book of the same title by Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

JEFF COHEN
Cohen, a media critic and the author of Cable News Confidential, said today: “I’ve questioned media managers about their over-reliance on military brass for years and debated the topic on CNN 13 years ago. The public has often been misled, as in the run-up to the Iraq invasion. If TV networks covered labor issues by such heavy reliance on lifelong union officials who’d retired from the labor movement in good standing, it would be seen as biased and incomplete. But it’s considered A-OK if it’s high-ranked Pentagon alumni.”

LORETTA ALPER
Alper is a producer and co-director of War Made Easy, produced by the Media Education Foundation. She said today: “After having sifted through hundreds of hours of archival footage for the film War Made Easy, I see Eason Jordan’s actions as being part of a continuum of war-friendly news coverage from Vietnam to Iraq.”

NORMAN SOLOMON
Solomon, the author of the book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, is interviewed in the film. His response to Eason Jordan’s current rationale for seeking a “thumbs-up” on CNN hiring from the Pentagon is posted at CommonDreams.org.