In the Donald Trump era NBC and MSNBC have tried to position themselves as the alternative to Fox News and have taken to giving negative coverage on him like the way that Fox News provides positive coverage. That may be a good ratings strategy to attract all those viewers who intensely dislike Trump but that should not delude us into thinking that it is a progressive news outlet. Far from it. Glenn Greenwald publicizes an astonishingly frank email written to various news outlets by veteran military and national security reporter and analyst William Arkin as he quits NBC News and MSNBC in disgust at what he sees as having become slavish pro-war propaganda outlets.
As Arkin says:
To me there is also a larger problem: though they produce nothing that resembles actual safety and security, the national security leaders and generals we have are allowed to do their thing unmolested. Despite being at “war,” no great wartime leaders or visionaries are emerging. There is not a soul in Washington who can say that they have won or stopped any conflict. And though there might be the beloved perfumed princes in the form of the Petraeus’ and Wes Clarks’, or the so-called warrior monks like Mattis and McMaster, we’ve had more than a generation of national security leaders who sadly and fraudulently have done little of consequence. And yet we (and others) embrace them, even the highly partisan formers who masquerade as “analysts”. We do so ignoring the empirical truth of what they have wrought: There is not one county in the Middle East that is safer today than it was 18 years ago. Indeed the world becomes ever more polarized and dangerous. …
For me I realized how out of step I was when I looked at Trump’s various bumbling intuitions: his desire to improve relations with Russia, to denuclearize North Korea, to get out of the Middle East, to question why we are fighting in Africa, even in his attacks on the intelligence community and the FBI. Of course he is an ignorant and incompetent impostor. And yet I’m alarmed at how quick NBC is to mechanically argue the contrary, to be in favor of policies that just spell more conflict and more war. Really? We shouldn’t get out Syria? We shouldn’t go for the bold move of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula? Even on Russia, though we should be concerned about the brittleness of our democracy that it is so vulnerable to manipulation, do we really yearn for the Cold War? And don’t even get me started with the FBI: What? We now lionize this historically destructive institution?
Glenn Greenwald adds his own commentary to Arkin’s comments.
Its key passages are scathing and unflinching in their depiction of those networks as pro-war propaganda outlets that exist to do little more than amplify and serve the security state agencies most devoted to opposing Trump, including their mindless opposition to Trump’s attempts (with whatever motives) to roll back some of the excesses of imperialism, aggression, and U.S. involvement in endless war, as well as to sacrifice all journalistic standards and skepticism about generals and the U.S war machine if doing so advances their monomaniacal mission of denouncing Trump.
Some of the most beloved and frequently featured MSNBC commentators are the most bloodthirsty pro-war militarists from the war on terror: David Frum, Jennifer Rubin, Ralph Peters, and Bill Kristol (who was just giddily and affectionately celebrated with a playful nickname bestowed on him: “Lil Bill”). In early 2018, NBC hired former CIA chief John Brennan to serve as a “senior national security and intelligence analyst,” where the rendition and torture advocate joined — as Politico’s Jack Shafer noted — a long litany of former security state officials at the network, including “Chuck Rosenberg, former acting DEA administrator, chief of staff for FBI Director James B. Comey, and counselor to former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III; Frank Figliuzzi, former chief of FBI counterintelligence; Juan Zarate, deputy national security adviser under Bush.”
As Shafer noted, filling your news and analyst slots with former security state officials as MSNBC and NBC have done is tantamount to becoming state TV, since “their first loyalty — and this is no slam — is to the agency from which they hail.” As he put it: “Imagine a TV network covering the auto industry through the eyes of dozens of paid former auto executives and you begin to appreciate the current peculiarities.”
I find it mystifying that anyone who considers themselves liberal would be giving a pass to people like Frum, Kristol, Rubin, and other neoconservatives. Those people are the ones who have involved the US in unwinnable wars that have caused immense suffering and they have never, as far as I am aware, admitted that they were wrong and apologized. They are still pushing for war with Iran. Their dislike of Trump is likely rooted in the fact that he criticized their wars while he was running for president and even now makes noises about getting out of them, a major challenge to the bipartisan War Party agenda, as can be seen by the fury that was unleashed on Trump from all sides when he said that the was getting the US out of Syria.
All it seems to be necessary to be embraced by the liberals is to criticize Trump. Already we see them rejoicing over the tepid comments by new senator Mitt Romney about Trump. I fully expect Romney to play the role that was vacated by Republican senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, getting plenty of favorable coverage from the ‘liberal’ media by criticizing Trump and then voting with him on every extreme right wing policy.