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Video:PBS and the Poor Pentagon

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: dishonesty, corporate, lies, politics, society, marketing, news, government, finance, ethics, troops, war, military, media, lies, propaganda, americans, abuse, cover-up, economy )

- 1935 days ago -
The segment unfortunately presented a very narrow view of the issue, one that mimics the kind of coverage we see elsewhere in the corporate media.

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JL A (281)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 11:48 am
PBS and the Poor Pentagon
By Peter Hart

Does this look like a "crisis"?

The PBS NewsHour (1/29/13) took a look at military spending cuts in advance of Chuck Hagel's confirmation hearings to be Barack Obama's next secretary of Defense. The segment unfortunately presented a very narrow view of the issue, one that mimics the kind of coverage we see elsewhere in the corporate media.

Host Gwen Ifill set the stage by referring to the "Pentagon's looming budget crisis." Yes, there are plans to cut military spending–but calling that a "crisis" adopts the perspective of military contractors and Pentagon officials. Correspondent Kwame Holman followed up by reporting that "hundreds of thousands of the Pentagon's civilian employees will face furloughs and reduced paychecks as early as April."

To discuss the issue, Holman spoke to two sources: Gordon Adams, a Clinton-era military budget official, and Thomas Donnelly of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, who "worked on defense issues for Republican members of Congress. " Donnelly is very critical of plans to cut military spending, and in fact thinks the size of the military forces is too small.

The problem with these discussions is that, as economist Dean Baker has pointed out, viewers are given no sense of what the cuts mean relative to the size of the military budget in total. As Ifill puts it in the top of the show, the sequester means that "the Defense Department may have to find $52 billion in savings this year and half a trillion dollars over the next decade."

Those are, you know, really big numbers, right? But without knowing how big the Pentagon budget is, you have no way of knowing what those cuts actually mean.

The closest PBS got to explaining any of this was when Holman said this:

Historically, military spending rises during wartime and declines by about 30 percent once the war is over. So spending that went up nearly 70 percent in constant dollars since 2001 is on the way down, as the U.S. leaves Afghanistan and the Iraq war has ended.

That means even if Congress and the president reach a budget deal and avoid automatic spending cuts, the Pentagon's budget still is going to be reduced significantly, says Adams.

So we know military spending dramatically increased. So are these "crisis" cuts comparable to those increases? Not really. Ifill told viewers that the Pentagon might have to find $500 billion in cuts over the course of the decade. But what viewers should have known is that they're planning on spending something like $8 trillion over the same time. So this massive, job killing fiscal "crisis" amounts to maybe 6 or 7 percent of their projected spending.

As the graph below shows, even if the cuts that are set to take effect and the sequestration cuts were to occur (the latter are very much up in the air), the Pentagon would be forced to get by on something like its 2004 or 2006 budget–still well above the Cold War average.

The NewsHour should have done a better job putting these numbers in context–though their history on this issue isn't very encouraging. As we pointed out last year, one segment on the same issue included as experts Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and a Pentagon official. If you're not willing to go and speak to sources outside elite politics, it's going to be very hard to get a critical take on an issue like this. But that's exactly what PBS is supposed to do.

Kit B (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 3:40 pm

For an overview on the military/Pentagon budget:

It is a pdf file and it is long and detailed. I think we must consider if we are going to continue to spend these vast sums of money, mostly on the newest weapons, and contractors, then we must also consider what we plan to do with the military. Do we want to continue in these wars of adventure? Should we be hiring mercenary soldiers? Many questions - few solid answers.

JL A (281)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 5:19 pm
Thanks for posing essential questions and posting additional comprehensive factual resource Kit! You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last week.

Angelika R (143)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 5:27 pm
Still here are a LOT of items to be cut that will NOT hurt the military! (unused nuke rockets remaining on ALERT to name one). while this is certainly NOT the reason Rmoney wanted to put PBS on the chopping block, they still ought to do a better and correct job, agreed!
I also love to read the FAIR news missed this though. Blessings to the internet-if only folks would USE it to factcheck what their TV presents them!

JL A (281)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 7:53 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Angelika because you have done so within the last week.

Giana Peranio-paz (398)
Monday February 4, 2013, 1:01 am
If all countries cut their military budget in half (at least) the world would be a better place to live in. The funds would go to much better causes like education, health and animal welfare...

Ro H (0)
Monday February 4, 2013, 6:11 am

JL A (281)
Monday February 4, 2013, 8:23 am
You cannot currently send a star to Giana because you have done so within the last week.
You are welcome Ro

. (0)
Monday February 4, 2013, 10:26 am
I don't watch TV.

Scott haakon (4)
Monday February 4, 2013, 11:20 am
Poor article as it was not adjusted in dollar value. The numbers have to reflect what the buying power of the dollar is at the time of spending.

Past Member (0)
Monday February 4, 2013, 11:56 am
I remember when the right took control of PBS under Bush (mabus). It hasn't been its unbiased self since. PBS Finance mirrors CNBC. We lost them. They belong to the Koch's et al now.

We need the anti MIC Hagel now more than ever.

JL A (281)
Monday February 4, 2013, 12:10 pm
Thank you Scott for confirming what a biased presentation of the issue this show gave.
PBS is accessible online Michael should you ever want to see something.
You cannot currently send a star to Jason because you have done so within the last week.

Lois Jordan (63)
Monday February 4, 2013, 3:02 pm
Noted. Thanks, J.L.
Jason, above, has it right. PBS' "Nova: Rise of the Drones" was broadcast last week. One of the producers, I believe, was a guest on The Daily Show a couple days before to publicize it. I was a bit suspicious, so I tuned in to find one of the funders was a Koch brother. A e.mail campaign was taken up by one of the online progressive groups to protest the underwriting by one of the other funders. This got a response from PBS. So, at least The Powers That Be at PBS are aware that there is a large group studying who is funding their programming. We must stay on top of this.
I was also unaware for years that The Carlyle Group profits enormously from war, and I'm sure there are many others funding various programs that go completely against progressive visions and causes.

JL A (281)
Monday February 4, 2013, 3:10 pm
Thanks so much for fleshing out the sponsor-funding biases issue with PBS Lois for those who may not have known! You cannot currently send a star to Lois because you have done so within the last week.
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