Monday, October 17, 2005

Goddamit!

ACTION NOTICE: Once you've read the following, go here and, at the bottom of the page, file a complaint with the Department of Defense Inspector General's office. There are clear examples here of a "Violation of Law, Rule or Regulation" as well as "Abuse of Authority" on the part of Allison Barber. Do it today. We need as many reports going in as possible.

ACTION UPDATE: Feel free to quote from this letter in your complaint. It's from chief of the Radio Division of American Forces Network, confirming the agreement to begin airing Ed Schultz. Money quotes: "AFN Radio has squared away everything on our end to begin carrying the first hour of 'The Ed Schultz Show' each day, beginning Monday, October 17, 2005...Thank you for all your help--dating back many months now--preparing the way to make all this happen...An awful lot of people in the government had (or tried to have) a hand in program selection process that ended with the decision to add 'The Ed Schultz Show.'" So, you could probably point out the I.G. that Barber and others have also cost the government an unknown number of man-hours that went into this months-long process. Now read on.

From ThinkProgress:
Armed Forces Radio (AFR) is a station that is broadcast to American troops overseas through “over 1,000 outlets in more than 175 countries.” It currently features an hour of programming from right-wing host Rush Limbaugh. There is no comparable progressive program.

Today, that was supposed change. Ed Schultz – the most popular progressive radio show in the country — was supposed to start broadcasting on Armed Forces radio. Jones Radio, the company that syndicates the Ed Shultz show, received an email on September 29 from an Armed Forces Radio official confirming that one hour of the Ed Schultz show would begin airing today, October 17.

(At 6.am. this morning), the producer of the Ed Schultz show, James Holm, received a call from Pentagon communications aide Allison Barber. She told Holm that she was calling so early to let Schultz know his show would not begin airing on AFR today. You’ll remember Barber as the aide caught coaching troops before a photo-op with President Bush last week.

Barber told Holm that the Ed Schultz show would not start on AFR today because her boss, Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita, was out of the country and couldn’t approve it. Barber also said she was going out of the country soon for a week-and-a-half. Holm asked Barber if the show would begin when DiRita and Barber returned. Barber said she couldn’t guarantee that.

Here’s the really interesting part. Barber told Holm she heard Ed announced that he would begin on AFR during his show Friday. Schultz’s show Friday began with audio outtakes of Barber sounding foolish as she rehearsed the troops “Q&A session” with Bush.
Motherfuckers.

I've written about the military propaganda machine before (here and here), but let's once again remind everyone what the regulations guiding military broadcasting outlets require an even hand:
AFRTS-BC and AFRTS outlets' news policy shall be guided by the principle of fairness. This principle applies to issues rather than persons and does not require "equal opportunities." It does require outlets to provide "reasonable opportunities" for the presentation of conflicting views on important controversial public issues. All AFRTS news programming shall be characterized by its fairness. (C4.7.2. Principle of Fairness.)
For too long the conservatives have been in control of American Forces Radio. I wouldn't be surprised now if, rather that put Ed Schultz on the air, they chose to drop Rush Limbaugh. Rush could scream and holler about being "censored" by liberals and it wouldn't matter in the long run, since The Pentagon Channel and other military broadcasting assets are already being used to inculcate service members in the ways of neocons. Check out this recent exchange on Lou Dobbs' program:
MCINTYRE: Now, Lou, we asked the military journalists at the Pentagon Channel. They all said that they produce, they believe, fair and accurate reports. But some current and former staffers say that if they could say what they really think, their answer might be different.

And the question on these two events is the same. Are military personnel who have to follow orders being used to advance the administration's version of reality -- Lou.

DOBBS: Fair and balanced is always a matter of some perspective and always subjective. The fact that the Pentagon is producing news coverage is clear cut. I mean, that -- how does that differentiate it from psych ops that they would be conducting anywhere?

MCINTYRE: Well, they make a number of points. They say that the Pentagon Channel is aimed, first of all, at their own audience, the military, the Pentagon...

DOBBS: I'm not sure that's reassuring.
Nope, it certainly isn't.


Update: You have to read this too.

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