In two separate reports since The New York Times published an exposé on the hidden ties between media military analysts and the Pentagon, Fox News' Special Report aired quotes from Fox News military analyst Robert Scales without mentioning that Scales was named in the Times article and addressing Scales' relationship with the Defense Department and defense contractors.
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Since The New York Times published an exposé on the hidden ties between media military analysts and the Pentagon on April 20, Fox News' Special Report has aired quotes from retired Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales, a Fox News military analyst, in two separate reports without mentioning that Scales was named in the Times article and addressing Scales' relationship with the Defense Department and defense contractors. Indeed, as Media Matters for America has documented, Special Report has yet to mention the Times piece at all. Times investigative reporter David Barstow reported that "the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform" media military analysts, many of whom have clients with an interest in obtaining Pentagon contracts, "into a kind of media Trojan horse -- an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks."
Barstow wrote that "[s]ome e-mail messages between the Pentagon and the analysts reveal an implicit trade of privileged access for favorable coverage. Robert H. Scales Jr., a retired Army general and analyst for Fox News and National Public Radio whose consulting company advises several military firms on weapons and tactics used in Iraq, wanted the Pentagon to approve high-level briefings for him inside Iraq in 2006. 'Recall the stuff I did after my last visit," he wrote. 'I will do the same this time.' " Barstow also reported that Scales was one of several analysts who "pointed out, accurately, that they did not always agree with the administration or each other." Barstow quoted Scales as saying, "None of us drink the Kool-Aid."
On the two occasions he appeared on Special Report since April 20, Scales addressed recent actions by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. On the April 21 edition, Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported that Gates "chastised members of the Air Force and other services" and urged them to "deploy more unmanned aerial systems, such as the Air Force's Predator drones." Griffin aired a video clip of Scales saying, "Frankly, there isn't anywhere near the number of unmanned drones necessary to fulfill this mission to the degree that the ground commanders think that the mission should be done." Griffin then stated, "The Air Force says such criticism is unfair." Likewise, on April 23, during Griffin's report on Gates' announcement that he had chosen Gen. David Petraeus to head U.S. Central Command, and Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, corps commander, to replace Petraeus, Scales is shown saying: "There are plenty of generals who are good at counterinsurgency. The real issue is the desire of the secretary of defense to restore that strategic operational chemistry, if you will, between two generals -- Petraeus, who is the strategist, and Odierno, who is the classic operator -- and those combinations don't come along very often, and they're extremely rare."
Scales' online Fox News bio states that "General Scales is the president of Colgen, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in issues relating to land power, war gaming and strategic leadership."
According to its website, Colgen "[a]ssists the landpower Services in creating future warfighting doctrine and operational concepts" and "[t]ranslates these concepts into useful strategies and actions for industry, the media, and the congressional and executive branches of government." Colgen also "provides products targeted to these marketing elements including: media commentary, congressional testimony, advice to the executive branch, published works, seminars and conferences." Colgen's "growing list of satisfied clients" includes defense contractors such as General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin, as well as multiple elements of the Department of Defense, such as the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps.
In an April 21 article following up on the Times' story, The Washington Post reported that "Marty Ryan, a Fox News executive producer, said yesterday that the analysts are hired not just for their expertise but also as people 'who have access to and know what the thinking of the Pentagon is. That makes them valuable to us.' " The Post further reported that "[w]ith so many military commentators retained in wartime, 'it's a little unrealistic to think you're going to do a big background check on everybody,' Ryan said. 'Some of the business ties aren't necessarily relevant when you're asking them about a specific helicopter operation.' "
From the April 23 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
[begin video clip]
GRIFFIN: In a hastily arranged news conference, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced he is filling the open position of CENTCOM commander with the Army's most well-known and admired general, the commander of Multi-National Forces in Iraq, David Petraeus.
GATES: I recommended him to the president because I am absolutely confident he is the best man for the job.
GRIFFIN: Petraeus would serve in one of the nation's top military command posts, responsible for 26 countries, including the entire Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and East Africa.
GATES: The kinds of conflicts that we're dealing with not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan, and some of the challenges that we face elsewhere in the region, and the Central Command area, are very much characterized by asymmetric warfare. And I don't know anybody in the United States military better qualified to lead that effort.
GRIFFIN: General Petraeus will exit Iraq in the late summer or fall, after the last surge troops leave. He will go to CENTCOM in Tampa, Florida. Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, who just returned from Iraq in February, where he served as corps commander and Petraeus' right hand, will go back.
He is currently on leave with his family at Fort Hood in Texas. Lieutenant General Pete Corelli, now the senior military adviser to Secretary Gates, will remain in the Pentagon, becoming the Army's vice chief, a position Odierno was supposed to take.
SCALES: There are plenty of generals who are good at counterinsurgency. The real issue is the desire of the secretary of defense to restore that strategic operational chemistry, if you will, between two generals -- Petraeus, who is the strategist, and Odierno, who is the classic operator -- and those combinations don't come along very often, and they're extremely rare.
GRIFFIN: The changes must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Gates said today after consulting with Armed Services Committee Chairman Democrat Carl Levin [MI], he did not anticipate any problems, but it may not all be smooth sailing. Democratic Senator Russ Feingold [WI] reacted to the nomination, describing the administration's focus on Iraq as, quote, "myopic" at the expense of the war in Afghanistan. Quote: "General Petraeus must answer the most important question we face, which is not whether we are winning in Iraq, but why we are not defeating Al Qaeda.
[end video clip]
GRIFFIN: In his job as commander of forces in Iraq, General Petraeus was not supposed to look beyond Iraq. Now, he will be charged with balancing troop needs in two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan. At the Pentagon, Jennifer Griffin, Fox News.
From the April 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
[begin video clip]
GRIFFIN: Shock and awe brought the Air Force glory five years ago at the beginning of the Iraq war, but today's Iraqi insurgents weren't shocked or awed, it appears. And now, the U.S. military finds itself adapting its doctrine to a new enemy -- the insurgent -- a likely foe for decades to come.
Today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in a speech at Maxwell Air Base, chastised members of the Air Force and other services. Quote: "My concern is that our services are still not moving aggressively in wartime to provide resources needed now on the battlefield. I've been wrestling for months to get more intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets into the theatre. Because people were stuck in old ways of doing business, it's been like pulling teeth."
Gates was referring to deploying more unmanned aerial systems, such as the Air Force's Predator drones, the eyes in the sky for the military since 9-11 for tracking Al Qaeda leaders and insurgents. He recalled how, as head of the CIA in 1992, he couldn't convince the Air Force to co-fund a vehicle without a pilot.
Today, there are 5,000 unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance vehicles, a 25-fold increase since 9-11, by Gates' own estimates. "While we've doubled this capability in recent months, it is still not good enough," Gates told the Air officers.
SCALES: Frankly, there isn't anywhere near the number of unmanned drones necessary to fulfill this mission to the degree that the ground commanders think that the mission should be done.
GRIFFIN: The Air Force says such criticism is unfair. Of the 110 Predators it has, 74 are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, 88 percent of the force. The Pentagon asked the Air Force to field 21 combat air patrol teams, each with about four to five Predators to CENTCOM by 2010. The Air Force is already two years ahead of schedule.
BRIG. GEN. BLAIR HANSEN (Director of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Capabilities, U.S. Air Force): We're deathly serious about not only pushing what we have today, but being able, six months from now, to continue to grow that while we strengthen the capability to, in fact, be engaged as a partner.
[end video clip]
GRIFFIN: Gates wants the Air Force to train drone teams faster. Right now, there simply aren't enough pilots. Unlike the Army, the Air Force insists on using trained fighter pilots, arguing that even though the pilot sits thousands of miles away, this is not a video game. At the Pentagon, Jennifer Griffin, Fox News.