|CNN, MSNBC, and more corporate news networks hire former top U.S. government officials as analysts, who call for a more belligerent foreign policy, Ben Norton reports.|
By Ben Norton
Americans frequently boast of how free and independent their press ostensibly is. Overlooking the fact that, according to the watchdog group Reporters Without Borders, media freedoms in the United States come in at a measly 43rd place globally, some of the liberties that do indeed exist are being whittled down.
And it is not just the government that is cracking down on press freedoms in the U.S. (although it certainly is). In recent years, leading corporate media networks have also, of their own accord, abrogated their independence by directly hiring former top government officials as analysts and commentators.
The latest example of the revolving door between U.S. intelligence agencies and the corporate media came on February 1, when NBC News announced that John Brennan, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, had been hired as a senior national security and intelligence analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.
Brennan joins a slew of other former senior U.S. intelligence officers who can now be seen across television.
In April 2017, CNN added three new government officials to its ranks.
Michael Hayden, the only person to have served as the director of both the CIA and the National Security Agency, was hired as a CNN national security analyst. Hayden is not exactly known for being a friend of journalists. As I previously reported for Salon, Hayden has likened Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Glenn Greenwald to the devil and disparaged other prominent investigative journalists, such as Seymour Hersh, Laura Poitras and Jane Mayer. He also joked about putting whistleblower Edward Snowden on the drone assassination program’s kill list.
John Kirby, the former spokesperson for the State Department, was also hired as a military and diplomatic analyst for CNN. Kirby was previously a press secretary for the Pentagon and served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations. That is to say, he spent years playing the media on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense, and subsequently became a prominent voice in the very media he had worked for so long.
Moreover, Lisa Monaco, who was homeland security advisor under President Barack Obama, joined CNN’s ranks as a senior national security analyst. Upon her promotion to the president’s top counterterrorism advisor, Monaco had taken over the previous position of new MSNBC analyst Brennan, as CNN itself noted at the time.
That’s not all. Later in 2017, CNN likewise hired James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence under Obama and previous head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, as a national security analyst. Lawmakers have called for Clapper to face perjury charges for lying under oath. During congressional testimony in 2013, the top spy chief was asked if the NSA was collecting any of the data of Americans; he insisted the agency was not doing so. Months later, Edward Snowden showed otherwise, with the help of journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras — all of whom have been excoriated by CNN national security analyst Hayden.