Finally, some network newsperson responded to the military analysts controversy. Brian Williams, the NBC News anchor, commented in his blog after receiving a slurry of criticism from Glenn Greenwald’s readers. Greenwald called out Williams after the latter wrote a snotty blog entry the day before about the New York Times. Greenwald makes hash of Williams response, so I won’t do that here, but I did find one thing especially interesting in what Williams wrote.
Williams talks about his relationship with two of the military analysts in question, Barry McCaffrey and Wayne Downing, as if they were Tiger Woods and he was a 12-year-old golf fan:
All I can say is this: these two guys never gave what I considered to be the party line. They were tough, honest critics of the U.S. military effort in Iraq. If you’ve had any exposure to retired officers of that rank (and we’ve not had any five-star Generals in the modern era) then you know: these men are passionate patriots. In my dealings with them, they were also honest brokers. I knew full well whenever either man went on a fact-finding mission or went for high-level briefings. They never came back spun, and never attempted a conversion. They are warriors-turned-analysts, not lobbyists or politicians.
Never mind that both men had multiple conflicts of interest — both served on the board of a neoconservative organization that advocated the overthrow of Saddam Hussein prior to the start of the war, and both worked in the defense industry and stood to receive financial gain from the war. But it is the last sentence in the quote above that really jumped out at me. “They are warriors-turned-analysts….” Williams’ drooling hero worship for these “warriors” couldn’t be any more obvious if he French-kissed them on his news broadcast. These men somehow grow beyond criticism simply because they served in the military. No wonder Williams never questioned their integrity… he was paralyzed by his own fawning obsequiousness.
Good thing Williams wasn’t anchor during the Vietnam War. He’d have believed we were winning right up until the evacuation of Saigon.