To better manufacture consent, U.S. Army soldiers are embedded as intern and fellows at local TV affiliates, along with previously reported newspapers and national outlets.
3 Oct 2010 | InfoShop News
The U.S. Army installs soldiers at local media affiliates to train them for psychological operations (PSYOPS), John Cook reported Friday at Yahoo! News’ blog “The Upshot” (h/t: Daniel Tencer):
The U.S. Army has used local television stations in the U.S. as training posts for some of its psychological-operations personnel, The Upshot has learned. Since at least 2001, both WRAL, a CBS affiliate in Raleigh, N.C., and WTOC, a CBS affiliate in Savannah, Ga., have regularly hosted active-duty soldiers from the Army’s 4th Psychological Operations group as part of the Army’s Training With Industry program. Training With Industry is designed to offer career soldiers a chance to pick up skills through internships and fellowships with private businesses. The PSYOPS soldiers used WRAL and WTOC to learn broadcasting and communications expertise that they could apply in their mission, as the Army describes it, of “influenc[ing] the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign audiences.”
WRAL claims to have not hosted PSOPS personnel since 2007, but WTOC currently has one soldier training in their newsroom, Mr. Cook reported.
The CBS affiliates were on a list of participants of the Army’s “Training With Industry” (T.W.I.) program obtained as a result of an “Upshot” Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The local affiliates add to the list of the Pentagon’s PSYOPS programs, which places military personnel directly in the media apparatus.
In 2008, it was discovered that retired generals working with the Pentagon were being portrayed as independent “analysts” by CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX in their interviews with them through David Barstow’s Pulitzer-winning investigative report at The New York Times. In October, the Pentagon would not comment as to whether or not the Bush Administration’s covert propaganda effort by the Pentagon was still a part of their PSYOPS policy during the Obama Administration.
Records obtained by “The Upshot” in August confirmed the T.W.I. program didn’t only include military personnel working in the military-industrial complex of weapons manufacturers, private security contractors and consulting, but also as “reverse embeds” in the media:
Much has been made of the media’s practice of “embedding” reporters in military units, allowing them to file immersive reports on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while under the total care and control of the U.S. military. But a less widely known practice is the Pentagon’s occasional “reverse embed,” which permits active-duty service personnel to serve as interns in major media companies—sometimes in an editorial capacity—gleaning insights and intelligence into how media organizations operate, and perhaps helping to shape the way they cover the military. According to military records obtained by “The Upshot” under the Freedom of Information Act, in recent years CNN, the Chicago Tribune, and a smattering of other smaller news outlets have all hosted active-duty military personnel as part of a Pentagon program designed to offer service members experience in the corporate world.
Though CNN admitted the relationship was inappropriate, “The Upshot” confirmed that if the program was ever ended, it was reactivated, Mr Cook reported:
The T.W.I. operation achieved some notoriety in 2000, when Dutch and French media reported that CNN had invited U.S. Army psychological operations soldiers into its newsroom to serve as interns. Embarrassed at having hosted military disinformation specialists, the network acknowledged that it was a mistake and said in a statement that “the intern program was terminated as soon as the leadership of CNN learned of it.”
Now, however, the program appears to have been reactivated—at CNN and elsewhere.
The Chicago Tribune, according to Mr. Cook’s report, has not participated in the program since 2004.
The Pentagon spent almost $5bn specifically for public opinion related expenditures in 2009, Daniel Tencer at The Raw Story yesterday added:
Last year, the Associated Press reported on a mushrooming military budget for public opinion operations, with the budget for such operations hitting $4.7 billion in 2009 — “almost as much as it spent on body armor for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2006.” Some $489 million of that went to psychological operations.