NETWORK MILITARY ANALYSTS: A MEDIA TROJAN HORSE?
In a 7,600-word account, covering nearly four pages of the Sunday edition of The New York Times, reporter David Barstow has described how the Pentagon has used broadcast and cable-TV "military experts" to promote its war policies. "Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air," Barstow alleged in the Times article. A few of the analysts have expressed regret. Robert Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and for Fox News military analyst told the Times that he and fellow military officers had been used as puppets. "It was them saying, 'We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you," he said. Former NBC military analyst Kenneth Allard said that he began to see discrepancies between what he and fellow analysts were being told in briefings and what subsequent information later revealed. "I felt we'd been hosed," Allard told the Times. In his article, Barstow comments that the Pentagon sought to use the military analysts as "a kind of media Trojan horse," and that email messages obtained by the newspaper referred to them by such terms as "surrogates" and "message-force multipliers." Moreover, he maintains, the TV outlets that featured the analysts failed to disclose that many of them were on the payrolls of defense contractors. For example, Ret. Army General James Marks, while working as an analyst for CNN from 2004-2007, also worked at McNeil Technologies where he solicited billions of dollars in Pentagon contracts. CBS military analyst Jeffrey McCausland said in the article that the penalty for criticizing the military's policies in Iraq was losing "all access." (McCausland, the article pointed out, works at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, a lobbying firm for several military contractors.) Former Fox News analyst William V. Cowan, a retired Marine colonel, said that when he told Bill O'Reilly in August 2005 that the U.S. was "not on a good glide path right now" in Iraq, he was "precipitously fired from the analysts group." The Pentagon, he said, "simply didn't like the fact that I wasn't carrying their water." In the article, Barstow discloses that the Times itself published nine Op-Ed articles by military analysts recruited by the Pentagon.
YANKEES NETWORK PLAYS TO SELL-OUT CROWDS
The Yankees Entertainment and Sports (YES) Network, a regional cable channel available in New York and New Jersey, has been drawing record ratings during the first weeks of the baseball season. According to Nielsen Research, the YES Network's audience is up 19 percent over the same period a year ago and up 13 percent over 2004, its highest-rated year ever. Last Wednesday's (April 16) telecast of the game pitting the Yankees against arch foes the Boston Red Sox drew a whopping 6.8 rating, representing 658,000 viewers in the area. The opening-day Yankees-vs-Blue Jays telecast was the highest-rated game ever for the channel, drawing a 7.4 rating, representing 766,000 viewers.
CBS CHIEF COMES TO COURIC'S DEFENSE
CBS Chairman Les Moonves vainly attempted to extinguish rumors that Katie Couric's days as anchor of the CBS Evening News are numbered. Making a surprise appearance at the weekly Friday meeting between Couric and Evening News exec producer Rick Kaplan, shown over closed-circuit TV to CBS news employees, Moonves said that "there are no plans for a change [of anchor], today, tomorrow and into the future." Kaplan said that it took years for Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings to rise to the top. "She's not been at it two years and everybody is writing her obituary. ... That's fine. Success is the sweetest revenge." Most TV writers failed to buy the CBS executives' support for Couric and cited network sources who maintained that Couric would be ousted if her ratings do not improve by next year's presidential inauguration.
CABLE SUBSCRIBERS LEARN THEY MAY NEED CONVERTER BOXES, TOO
Some 28 million owners of analog TV sets who had expected to be able to make the switch to digital without cost if they were cable TV subscribers are learning that if they have an analog cable service, they may have to rent a converter box for each set, plus pay an installation fee, the Associated Press observed Sunday. The wire service indicated that the FCC and the broadcast industry have failed to make cable customers aware that if they receive an analog service -- in which the cable line is attached directly to the back of the set instead of passing through a settop cable box -- they may have to pay an additional fee unless the cable company opts to convert digital signals to analog for such customers -- something that they are not required by law to do.
PENNSYLVANIA TV STATIONS RAKE IN POLITICAL BUCKS
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will have spent as much as $25 million in advertising -- most of it for TV -- in Pennsylvania by the time voters go to the polls for Tuesday's primary, Advertising Age reported over the weekend, citing a survey by TNS Media Intelligence's Campaign Media Analysis Group. Obama, who according to polls is trailing Clinton, is outspending her on TV ads by nearly three to one, the survey indicated. The big political ad spending has produced what Campaign Media Analysis Group COO Evan Tracey called a gold mine for local TV stations. "It's like an ice-cream truck breaking down in front of their house," he said.
CHINESE HACKERS HIT CNN
Chinese hackers, apparently angered by recent comments about their country by CNN commentators, attempted last Thursday to bring down the cable news network's website, CNN reported Friday. Although for the most part the attempt proved to be unsuccessful, the website was nevertheless unavailable in several areas of Asia, CNN said. "We do not know who is responsible," the cable network added. On Saturday, Chinese-American demonstrators gathered at CNN's headquarters in Atlanta and outside its Hollywood studios to demand that commentator Jack Cafferty be fired for calling Chinese merchandise junk and the country's leaders "a bunch of goons and thugs."