Barstow’s N.Y. Times Investigative Series on Pentagon Hucksters Earns Polk Award

When David Barstow’s remarkable New York Times investigative pieces on corrupt propagandizing by the Pentagon first appeared,  they became required reading for my students.

And it wasn’t even the propaganda that was the mortal sin.   Our system is one in which politicians and agencies are allowed to vigorously promote their point of view while  we are obligated to vigorously monitor their output for spin and fluff and  other self-serving nonsense.  I have occasionally helped government agencies shape messages about safety and health emergencies.

But the “sins” uncovered in Bartow’s brilliant series “Message Machine” went way beyond the pale. The paid  military analysts were misrepresented by the networks  as neutral experts.  In fact, a number of them were shown to directly financially benefit from defense contractors when they promoted a certain point of view.  Sure, we are all drowning in phoniness. But this was phoniness for bucks that had life and death implications.

If you have any interest in the role of the press in society, the Barstow series is a must read.

A confession:  I am not naive about news management and spinning and lying and payoffs and all the rest.  May  God forgive me any spinning I have ever done that, well, spun more than it should have.

But this story shocked me.

Tonight David won a coveted 2008 Polk Award.

1 thought on “Barstow’s N.Y. Times Investigative Series on Pentagon Hucksters Earns Polk Award

  1. Thank you very much for posting about this critically important failure of the media. Now Barstow’s articles have won the Pulitzer, and the networks are refusing to address them. I find this unacceptable and have begun demanding a response.

    To help spread the word I have also created a Facebook group to help direct others to demand action from the networks also. Anyone interested can find this here:

    Again, Thank You.

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