In the run-up to the Iraq invasion, every one of the networks was essentially telling us the same story. It seemed like a coordinated effort to convince us that invading Iraq was a good idea.
Back in April, the New York Times revealed why this was indeed the case.
Are the Republicans at it, again?
In the run up to the Iraq invasion, the Pentagon essentially embedded moles at all the networks. These "civilian" military analysts had been hired as consultants by the networks, but they were also working for the Pentagon.
Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as "message force multipliers" or "surrogates" who could be counted on to deliver administration "themes and messages" to millions of Americans "in the form of their own opinions."
In the fall and winter leading up to the invasion, the Pentagon armed its analysts with talking points portraying Iraq as an urgent threat. The basic case became a familiar mantra: Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons, was developing nuclear weapons, and might one day slip some to Al Qaeda; an invasion would be a relatively quick and inexpensive "war of liberation."
A senior Pentagon aide said:
We were able to click on every single station and every one of our folks were up there delivering our message. You’d look at them and say, ‘This is working.’
So we know that major news organizations can be infiltrated by moles, who then shape the conventional media narrative for a specific purpose. It's happened once before.
Suppose it's happening again?
How would we know?
Ok, when all the TV networks swallow the same Republican "talking points" and then mindlessly regurgitate them all over the viewing public: then that's probably just the kind of "journalistic" laziness we've come to expect from them.
When they all embrace the same conventional narrative; that can also be ascribed to their institutional laziness and herd mentality.
When they all try to heighten the drama, by reporting the election is closer than it really is, then they could just be doing their job: as entertainers.
We've ascribed these patterns of behavior to institutional and corporate biases.
But, for the sake of argument, let's say there were Republican moles in the major news organizations. Let's say these moles were part of a coordinated effort to shape and distort how the election news is reported.
Actually, when it comes to the AP, we don't have to state this as a hypothetical case. We know that the AP's Washington bureau chief, Ron Fournier, is essentially a Republican operative.
Here's one of the more recent
AP RNC reports press releases from Fournier's crew:
As strains between Obama and some former Hillary Clinton supporters persisted, Republicans brought out a new ad pointedly invoking her past criticism that Obama wasn't ready to lead.
And the AP's treatment of Ted Kennedy's convention appearance is the subject of a dKos front page rebuke.
What if Fournier isn't the only Republican mole who is shaping the "news" reporting?
Fox News Channel is so infested with Republican operatives, that it's not really a legitimate news organization anymore. The head of FNC is the godfather of the modern GOP media campaign: Roger Ailes. However, FNC's "peers" in the Traditional Media treat it like a legitimate news organization.
FNC isn't alone. There's another propaganda arm of the far-right, which is treated as if it were a reputable news organization.
If there was a Hall of Fame for obscenely wealthy, right wing loonies: then "Rev" Sun Myung Moon would be on its board of governors. The bizarre "Rev" Moon is the founder of a cult called "The Unification Church", otherwise known as "The Moonies". Back in 1982, this lunatic cult leader founded his own far-right newspaper: the Washington Times .
A quarter of a century later, the "Moonie Times" is considered a credible news organization. Lou Dobbs puts it on par with the New York Times:
PEREZ: That's why newspapers have an opinion page.
PEREZ: It should be, opinions should be left to that page, not to the front page.
DOBBS: Right. Well, you and I know that. The editors of "The New York Times," "The Washington Post" and "The Los Angeles Times," it's a crying shame. "The Washington Times" as well, Diana West.
WEST: Well, you know, "The Washington Times" is - certainly has been covering news from a more conservative angle. But in terms of the -
DOBBS: I think that's a gentle way to put it. That's like saying "The New York Times" has a more liberal angle.
According to the Traditional Media: the Moonie Times is just the conservative counterpart to the New York Times. Clearly, when it comes to identifying credible news organizations, the Traditional Media's Overton Window has been shoved so far to the right, that it has fallen off the building.
Ok, none of us would really be surprised by a working relationship between FNC, the Moonie Times and the Republican party. But why should we assume that the Republican infestation ends there? Remember, we're talking about a political party that tried to turn the US Department of Justice into another arm of The Party; it was part of Karl Rove's plan for a Republican majority*. If the Republicans were willing to subvert the freakin' DOJ, then why would they hesitate to subvert the entire Traditional Media?
*(Using the power of the government to permanently maintain power; has Rove been taking lessons from Robert Mugabe?)
We know that this kind of media manipulation has happened before. We know that these Republicans have done far worse things. We can see that they've already successfully subverted the AP, through Fournier.
Is it also happening right now, with the other Traditional Media outlets?
How many "Fourniers" have infiltrated other media outlets?
How would we know?