David Barstow pieced together the details of a public
relations programme by the Pentagon
This week on The Listening Post we look at the Pentagon pundits scandal exposed in the New York Times.

Plus, the media watchdog sites that started off by assessing the news and have now become part of the media scenery themselves.

In April of this year the New York Times published a major article by David Barstow entitled Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon's Hidden Hand.

In researching the article Barstow used the courts to obtain more than eight thousand pages of email messages, transcripts and records from the US Defence Department.

He pieced together the details of a public relations programme by the Pentagon to put sympathetic senior ex-soldiers, many with ties to military contractors profiting from the Bush administration's foreign policies, on to the major US networks as analysts.

The success of the programme, and the willingness of the pundits to regurgitate, sometimes verbatim, what the Pentagon wanted them to say has astonished the public and embarrassed the networks.

CNN gets hit for damages by
the people of China
We look at the significance of this classic piece of investigative reporting, and ask how deep the damage to the networks might be. 

In part two we look at some of the media watchdog sites that have sprung up over recent years and become a major force in their own right.

Internet sites such as Media Matters, MediaChannel and the Huffington Post have gone from critiquing the headlines to making them, and have sometimes made enemies in the mainstream media along the way.

The Listening Post's Meenakshi Ravi looks at the effect these sites are having on what goes in to our morning paper and what appears on our screens.

In this week's Newsbytes: Israel seeks to settle out of court with the family of murdered filmmaker James Miller; CNN gets hit for damages by the people of China – all of them; the Indian soap operas that Afghan leaders do not want on their TVs; and suppression of opinion in Myanmar in the run up to a major constitutional referendum.

Our internet video of the week:

From the annual correspondents dinner in Washington, DC, George Bush's farewell to the media great and good had the usual mix of old jokes, back slapping and an unexpected musical contribution.

Watch part one of this episode of The Listening Post on YouTube

Watch part two of this episode of The Listening Post on YouTube

This episode of The Listening Post aired on Friday, May 02, 2008

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