Via Stars and Stripes:
Contrary to the insistence of Pentagon officials this week that they are not rating the work of reporters covering U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Stars and Stripes has obtained documents that prove that reporters’ coverage is being graded as “positive,” “neutral” or “negative.”
This is disturbing on so many levels. How can we trust the information that we are receiving regarding our soldiers. This is not a statement as to the truthfulness of the reporters, as the article goes on to state:
One reporter on the staff of one of America’s pre-eminent newspapers is rated in a Pentagon report as “neutral to positive” in his coverage of the U.S. military. Any negative stories he writes “could possibly be neutralized” by feeding him mitigating quotes from military officials.
Another reporter, from a TV station, provides coverage from a “subjective angle,” according to his Pentagon profile. Steering him toward covering “the positive work of a successful operation” could “result in favorable coverage.”
They can neutralize coverage or steer reporters?
Of course both the Defense Department and The Rendon Group are denying that this is profiling. However, the contract clearly states that the purpose is “News Monitoring and Media Analysis“. What else could this information be utilized to accomplish?
They didn’t waste any time on this contract, it was signed on January 21, 2009 for an amount of $1.5 million. Our tax dollars at work – protecting the Administration from bad press.
This quote from a servicemember says it all:
“It’s troubling that the military is contracting a private PR firm, paid with U.S. taxpayer dollars, to profile individual reporters,” said one servicemember who declined to be identified for fear of official retribution. “It shows utter contempt for the Constitution, which we in the service pledge our lives to defend.”