Toothless: The watchdog press that became the government’s lapdog (Part 1)

By Walter Brasch

The president of the Associated Press (AP) was spewing venom at the Bush–Cheney administration for having turned the Department of Defense into a propaganda machine.

Americans “expect honest answers about what’s happening to their sons and daughters,” Tom Curley told journalism students and faculty at the University of Kansas. Listing innumerable ways the Pentagon had advocated Bush-Cheney political beliefs, Curley questioned if the United States should “be trying to influence public opinion through subterfuge, both here and abroad,”

An AP investigation had just revealed that the Pentagon budget for “influence operations” this fiscal year is at least $4.8 billion, with about 27,000 civilian and military personnel assigned to information dissemination.

The penalty for failing to agree to the Pentagon’s terms of reporting, said Curley, was that he was told by top commanders that “if I stood and the AP stood by its journalistic principles, the AP and I would be ruined.”

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