The "Gentlemen's Agreement": When TV News Won't Identify Defense Lobbyists
As war rages, viewers watch commercials for weapons dealers, often without knowing it
When is a TV news interview not just an interview?
Leon Panetta was the nation’s top security official under Barack Obama, famous for his hangdog eyes and soft-spoken, equivocating defenses of torture and assassination of Americans while serving as both Secretary of Defense and CIA director. That was years ago. Today, he’s a senior counselor at Beacon Global Strategies, which represents a host of security companies, including famed munitions maker Raytheon. In Matt Orfalea’s booming video above, we see Panetta on a recent CNN broadcast stumping for Raytheon products like Javelin and Stinger missiles, with host Bianna Golodryga saying only that he “was America’s defense secretary and CIA director.” Orfalea goes on to capture how Panetta and other military “experts” chant WEAPONS WEAPONS WEAPONS over and over like they’re trying to open magic treasure chests, their commercial ties never revealed.
As war rages, there will be officials on TV with sincere opinions about how the U.S. can help Ukraine. Very often, however, what you’re watching is a paid lobbyist plugging for a weapons maker.
Joe Biden last week authorized another $800 million in military aid to Ukraine. This second major tranche of weapons came on the heels of weeks of passionate advocacy from former national security officials calling for heavy spending on reinforcements. Somewhere in the past, these commentators usually have impressive credentials. However, the more recent jobs of these commentators are often paid gigs helping military contractors “achieve their business objectives.” This phenomenon was embarrassing before Iraq, but the last months have seen near-total saturation of the airwaves by such figures.