A veteran national security journalist with NBC News and MSNBC recently blasted the news network in a recent email for becoming captive and subservient to the national security state, reflexively now pro-war in the name of stopping the nationalist Donald Trump, and the prime propaganda instrument of the War Machine’s promotion of militarism and imperialism.
As a result of NBC/MSNBC’s new all-consuming militarism, he said, “the national security establishment not only hasn’t missed a beat but indeed has gained dangerous strength” and “is ever more autonomous and practically impervious to criticism.”
The NBC/MSNBC reporter, William Arkin, is a longtime prominent war and military reporter, perhaps best known for his groundbreaking, three-part Washington Post series in 2010, co-reported with two-time Pulitzer winner Dana Priest, on how sprawling, unaccountable, and omnipotent the national security state has become in the post-9/11 era.
When that three-part investigative series, titled “Top Secret America,” was published, it was hailed it as one of the most important pieces of reporting of the war on terror, because while “we chirp endlessly about the Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court, the Democrats and Republicans, this is the real U.S. Government: functioning in total darkness, beyond elections and parties, so secret, vast and powerful that it evades the control or knowledge of any one person or even any organization.”
Arkin has worked with NBC and MSNBC over the years and continuously since 2016. But last week he announced that he was leaving the network in a long, emphatic email denouncing the networks for their superficial and reactionary coverage of national security, for becoming fixated on trivial Trump outbursts of the day to chase profit and ratings, and for becoming the central propaganda arm of the CIA and the Pentagon in the name of #Resistance, thus inculcating an entire new generation of liberals, paying attention to politics for the first time in the Trump era, to “lionize” those agencies and their policies of imperialism and militarism.
That MSNBC and NBC have become Security State Central has been obvious for quite some time. The network consists of little more than former CIA, NSA, and Pentagon officials as news “analysts”; ex-Bush-Cheney national security and communications officials as hosts and commentators; and the most extremist pro-war neocons constantly bashing Trump from the right, using the Cheney-Rove playbook on which they built their careers accusing “enemies“ of being insufficiently patriotic, traitors for America’s official enemies, and abandoning America’s hegemonic role in the world.
MSNBC’s star national security reporter Ken Dilanian was widely mocked by media outlets for years for being an uncritical CIA stenographer before he became a beloved NBC/MSNBC reporter (where his mindless servitude to his CIA masters has produced some of the network’s most humiliating debacles). The cable network’s key anchor, Rachel Maddow, once wrote a book on the evils of endless wars without congressional authorization, but now routinely depicts anyone who wants to end those illegal wars as reckless weaklings and traitors.
Some of the most beloved and frequently featured MSNBC commentators are the most pro-war militarists from the Bush war on terror: David Frum, Jennifer Rubin, Ralph Peters, and Bill Kristol. In early 2018, NBC hired former CIA chief John Brennan to serve as a “senior national security and intelligence analyst,” where the rendition and torture advocate joined a long litany of former security state officials at the network, including “Chuck Rosenberg, former acting DEA administrator, Frank Figliuzzi, former chief of FBI counterintelligence; and Juan Zarate, deputy national security adviser under Bush.”
Filling their news and analyst slots with former security state officials as MSNBC and NBC have done is tantamount to becoming war state TV, since their first loyalty is to the agency from which they hail. Imagine a TV network covering the auto industry through the eyes of dozens of paid former auto executives and you begin to appreciate the current peculiarities.
All of this led Arkin to publish a remarkable denunciation of NBC and MSNBC in the form of an email he sent to various news outlets. Its key passages are scathing and unflinching in their depiction of those networks as pro-war propaganda outlets that exist to do little more than amplify and serve the security state agencies most devoted to opposing Trump, including their mindless opposition to Trump’s attempts (regardless of his self-serving political motives) to roll back some of the excesses of imperialism, aggression, and U.S. involvement in endless war, as well as to sacrifice many journalistic standards and skepticism about generals and the U.S war machine - as long as doing so advances their mission of denouncing Trump.
That an entire generation of young Democrats paying attention to politics for the first time is being instilled with the formerly right-wing Cold Warrior values of jingoism, über-patriotism, reverence for security state agencies and prosecutors, a reckless use of the “traitor” accusation to smear one’s enemies, and a belief that neoconservatives embody moral rectitude and foreign policy expertise has long been obvious and deeply disturbing.
In the end, these pro-war toxins will endure far beyond Trump, particularly given the now full-scale unity between the corporate Democratic news establishment and the George W. Bush neocon militarists.
Glenn Greenwald, www.intercept.com, January 3, 2019