WaPo and the Pentagon, BFF?

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The Washington Post reports on flak the paper's been catching for co-sponsoring a Defense Department–run concert event called "Freedom Walk." (You too can celebrate your freedom if you're in the D.C. area, though you've got to register with the Pentagon first.)

Atrios quotes a letter to Romenesko from In These Times editor Christopher Hayes that sums up the complaint:

I count four different media outlets in that list. Funny, I thought it was the role of the press to challenge not collude with the government when it attempts to disseminate propaganda. And propaganda this is, let's be very clear. One supposes that the suits at the Washington Post Company who OK'ed the partnership with the DoD figured the sentiment of "supporting the troops" is so anodyne as to be wholly uncontroversial, akin to news anchors wearing flag pins on their lapels. If the rally were sponsored by some independent group of citizens, that'd be one thing (though still strange), but it is being organized by the United States military, the same entity currently administering and promoting an increasingly unpopular war, one that remains the single biggest news story in the nation and the subject of much public debate. This is a not a "support the troops" rally but rather, a "support the war" rally. Media outlets simply have no business granting their imprimatur to such a crudely political stunt.

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  1. If they actually hold this march I’m going to freak out. And you don’t want to see that from someone named Ugh.

  2. “Media outlets simply have no business granting their imprimatur to such a crudely political stunt.”

    uh, I’m about as anti-war as anyone, but doesn’t the idea of a free press mean that they are free to take any stand they want to? And if they become “Rush-ized” or “Coulter-ized”, that’s fine – everyone knows their bias, and can take it for what it’s worth?

    Liberty means the liberty to be wrong. In fact, the word loses all meaning if it is restricted to only being “right”. So if the Post wants to muddy its credentials with such a stunt, I say go for it! At least it is out in the open that it is not an unbiased news source…

  3. This fascist state brought to you by the “party of smaller government.”

  4. It will be interesting to see what sort of security they are going to have at that event.

    You too can celebrate your freedom if you’re in the D.C. area, though you’ve got to register with the Pentagon first.

    Yep, just name address and telephone number, all to walk on public streets to the mall and reflecting pool. You have to “check-in” too, but at least the first 1,000 to do so get a nice lapel pin.

    This fascist state brought to you by the “party of smaller government.”

    Well said.

  5. Lots of things that are within a journalist’s (or news org’s) rights under the First Amendment are still violations of professional ethics. Maybe in the long run the market solves by shifting pubblic trust to orgs that don’t violate those norms… but it sure seems like it’d be simpler for them to hew to them better.

  6. I think the F-bomb is rather lazy and inflammatory . . . except these guys won’t quit stealing from a certain 1930s political movement’s playbook.

    Lessee: we’ve got a personality cult centered on the Leader. We’ve got a Leader who blurs the line between his role as civillian and military commander, sporting faux military unforms and the like (Mission Accomplished!). We’ve got government organized rallies. We’ve got a bunch of crony corpratism instead of capitalism.

    Although, really, I think we’re going more in the banana republic direction than something on the european model. See Chile or Argentina.

  7. A major media organization and part of the federal government are marching for a concept called “freedom”. And you guys are upset about it.

    I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.

  8. What Mr. Sanchez said. Plus:

    Glad DC is a city of 2 newspapers, but now I think they could use 3. I love competition, but Coke v. Pepsi ain’t competition. Neither is Post v. Times.

  9. Brian,

    You forgot the commingling of the party apparatus and that of the state. They haven’t actually banned other parties, but there is the K Street Project…

    quasibill, if the newsies were backing a march by a private group, I’d agree. It’s getting in bed with the government that smells funny.

  10. Can we focus instead on the whole ridiculous ‘walk for freedom’ followed by a pop-country jingoistic display worthy of Nuremburg? How is this a proper rememberance for the 4th anniversary of the sept.11 attacks?

    Who gives a rat’s a** about Wapo being in it? They’re part of the same synergy driven industrial-military-enterainment complex anyway. 🙂

  11. And let’s not forget the patently transparent attempt to connect 9/11 with Iraq.

  12. If Atrios is against this, then I must be for it. Just the way these things usually work out.

    “This fascist state brought to you by the “party of smaller government.”

    Idiotically said. Good work.

    “Funny, I thought it was the role of the press to challenge not collude with the government when it attempts to disseminate propaganda.”

    I think you can wait about five minutes before the almighty press contradicts itself on this one.

    “Lessee: we’ve got a personality cult centered on the Leader. We’ve got a Leader who blurs the line between his role as civillian and military commander, sporting faux military unforms and the like (Mission Accomplished!). We’ve got government organized rallies.”

    This is so laughably wrong as to make one question your sobriety at this very moment. Personality cult? You can find about, I don’t know, a million web site right now calling Bush a chimp/nazi/idiot – if anything there is a cult mentality about demonizing the dude. Blurs the line between civilian and military commander? Last time I looked, that was his constitutionally defined role, Einstein. Government organized rallies? Gasp! When are the secret police coming over to your house to make you attend this concert/rally in praise of the Great Leader, which none of us had heard about until posted here?

  13. Isn’t Atrios bitching about the Washington Post taking a position that appears to support the Pentagon kind of like me bitching because Reason.com is taking a position that appears to support Atrios?

    Also – Why would a newspaper taking a pro-war position be a violation of journalistic ethics?

  14. Back when there was a draft, Norman Mailer and I, and some others had a “Freedom Walk” all right. It was called a March on the Pentagon.
    Ah… the good ole days!

  15. Yesterday, the http://www.americasupportsyou.mil/ site had a photo of Sensenbrenner, Hannity and Ollie North with some soldiers on the DoD site. I think they got wise and changed it. And country music??? Yeah, DC is all about the country music because our black majority loves that twangy country-western. I’m pretty sure is isn’t any sort of lobbying, association, non-profit or consulting firm thing either.

    As has been said before, I’m sure in 1944 they were having big ol’ concerts commemorating Pearl Harbor.

  16. “Gasp! When are the secret police coming over to your house to make you attend this concert/rally in praise of the Great Leader,”
    Don Mynack,
    Ever seen a slippery slope?

  17. “pop-country jingoistic display worthy of Nuremburg”

    Are you suggesting that a completely modern display honoring a semi-mythical agrarian history is somehow fascististic?

    Jim, while DC residents might not endorse, let’s not forget that large number of outer-borough NYC police and firemen, immigrant building maintenance employees, and financial industry workers from New Jersey, Westchester, and Connecticut, died that day as well. So there’s that.

  18. Geez, I share the reflexive hate for government that all of you do. But get over yourselves already. Everybody else is allowed to play their “jingoistic” propaganda game every day, so why not let the Pentagon hold a pro-America march?! And why be so damn upset about it?

  19. Forget about how silly the whole thing is. Think of all the paid overtime!

    On the other hand, it is a nice rememberance of the anniversary of Johnny Unitas’ death.

  20. Why shouldn’t a paper like WaPo come out as pro-war? Let’s see:

    Abdication of the resposibility to be a check on the powerful.

    Abdication of any claims to objectivity, and along with it, and claims to trustworthiness.

    Violation of the most basic journalistic ethics. Journalists are not PR people. Jouralism’s obligation is to the truth. PR’s job is to spin, obfuscate, and flat out lie. The moment a paper actively supports any person or organization, (yes, even the government and the military), they move dangerously close to PR.

  21. Well, number 6, I’d say you had excellent points, if mainstream newspapers hadn’t already forfeited all those things.

  22. “Jouralism’s obligation is to the truth.”

    No, it’s not.

    A free press means that a newspaper, in its editorial as opposed to its newsgathering incarnation, has absolutely no obligation to anyone of any kind, other than to serve as a platform to allow the free expression of the views of its publisher and/or editors. Zip. Nada. None.

    A press that takes no position or expresses no point of view is not a free press. Period.

    The press has no obligation “to act as a check on the powerful”. What about the occasions where the press AGREES with the powerful? Should they refrain from expressing it?

    Propaganda is propaganda when the press allows the government to dictate what it should say. Propaganda isn’t propaganda when the government says something and a newspaper simply agrees with it.

  23. Like I said a few days back, it’s a parade. All this reflexive renaming for PR purposes is great, but let’s call a spade a spade here and forget about the word “march.”

    Anyone else suspect it might turn out to be a “victory” parade to commemorate our ignominious slink away from Iraq after the Shari’a is codified as the new Iraqi Constitution?

  24. “Everybody else is allowed to play their “jingoistic” propaganda game every day, so why not let the Pentagon hold a pro-America march?! And why be so damn upset about it?”

    Mike A,
    The Pentagon is holding a pro-America march 24-7 over the whole world, except in the US. So we’re next?
    Whoo boy!

  25. Glad DC is a city of 2 newspapers, but now I think they could use 3. I love competition, but Coke v. Pepsi ain’t competition. Neither is Post v. Times.

    Aside from the fact that there’s the still up-and-coming Examiner, to the extent that it covers local politics there’s also the weekly City Paper, as well as the gay paper, The Blade.

  26. Yeah, Phil, I know. I just think DC could do a lot better. As could every other US city these days.

    Of course, we are never going to see that antitrust suit happen as long as the papers are so much in bed with the prosecutorses boss.

  27. Government organized rallies? Gasp!

    My memory is failing me–where does the Constitution say that one purpose of the military is to organize pep rallies to make people feel good about the military?

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