Donald Trump‘s authorization of the killing of top Iranian general Qassem Suleimani has received support from many media pundits during appearances on network television. Retired Army general Jack Keane praised Trump’s decision on Fox News and NPR, while fellow retired general David Petraeus told Foreign Policy that the president’s move would help “reestablish deterrence,” The Intercept’s Lee Fang reported.
Interestingly, Fang reports that Keane and Petraeus — as well as other pundits that have been supportive of Suleimani’s assassination — have undisclosed ties to the arms industry. Keane reportedly used to work for the controversial military contractor Blackwater and currently serves as a partner at venture capital firm SCP Partners, which Fang says invests in defense contractors. As for Petraeus, he allegedly works for the investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co., which owns stock in major defense contractors and is reportedly attempting to bolster its defense portfolio amid increased military budgets.
Other pundits with similar undisclosed ties include former State Department official John Negroponte, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and the chair of the lobbying firm American Defense International Van Hipp.
Gin Armstrong, a senior researcher with the Public Accountability Initiative, believes that it’s essential for viewers to understand the background of the people providing their news commentary when financial incentives are tied to the topics they are discussing.
“The key question is why media outlets allow anyone with a financial interest in war — regardless of their previous military or government experience — to have access to their platforms at a critical time like this.”
The Intercept notes that stock prices for major defense contractors have increased following Suleimani’s assassination due to expectations of escalating conflict.
This morning, Obama DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson debunked Democrats' claim that Congress needed to approve Soleimani strike— Zach Parkinson (@AZachParkinson) January 5, 2020
Johnson: Soleimani was a "lawful military objective" & the President had "ample domestic legal authority to take him out" pic.twitter.com/1LUqYAwm9j
Glenn Greenwald, one of the co-founding editors of The Intercept, previously noted the relationship between media networks and intelligence officials. His comments came in the wake of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report, which revealed numerous abuses of the FBI’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process during the bureau’s investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign. According to Greenwald, such violations were successfully hidden for so long due to the “highly dangerous trend” of media outlets not just accepting the claims of security state agents but employing them as pundits on their shows, allowing them to influence the news cycle.
“All of this has meant that U.S. discourse on these national security questions is shaped almost entirely by the very agencies that are trained to lie: the CIA, the NSA, the Pentagon, the FBI. And their lying has been highly effective,” he wrote, noting that such national security reporters lied for years about the warrant obtained on Carter Page and its use of the Steel Dossier.