[ "That a network insider has blown the whistle on how all this
works, and how MSNBC and NBC have become Ground Zero for these
political pathologies of militarism and servitude to security state
agencies, while not surprising, is nonetheless momentous]
[https://portside.org/] 

 VETERAN NBC REPORTER RIPS PRO-WAR POSTURE OF CORPORATE MEDIA IN
SCATHING RESIGNATION LETTER  
[https://portside.org/2019-01-05/veteran-nbc-reporter-rips-pro-war-posture-corporate-media-scathing-resignation-letter]


 

 Jessica Corbett 
 January 3, 2019
Common Dreams
[https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/01/03/veteran-nbc-commentator-rips-failures-pro-war-posture-corporate-media-scathing]


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 _ "That a network insider has blown the whistle on how all this
works, and how MSNBC and NBC have become Ground Zero for these
political pathologies of militarism and servitude to security state
agencies, while not surprising, is nonetheless momentous _ 

 Then-NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin, who resigned from the
network this week, breaks down declassified videos from drone strikes
in a segment published in 2016., NBC News/screenshot 

 

In a biting resignation letter published in full
[https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/02/media/william-arkin-departs-nbc-news/index.html]
by _CNN _on Wednesday, longtime _NBC News_ reporter, commentator, and
military analyst William "Bill" Arkin blasted the corporate media
network for embracing U.S. "national security leaders and generals"
while "ignoring the empirical truth of what they have wrought: There
is not one country in the Middle East that is safer today than it was
18 years ago. Indeed the world becomes ever more polarized and
dangerous."

Reflecting on his past couple of decades working with the network
[https://www.linkedin.com/in/william-arkin-09b43012]—in addition to
[https://williamaarkin.wordpress.com/about/] writing books and columns
for major newspapers and serving as as military adviser to human
rights and environmental groups—Arkin laments: "My expertise, though
seeming to be all the more central to the challenges and dangers we
face, also seems to be less valued at the moment. And I find myself
completely out of [sync] with the network, being neither a day-to-day
reporter nor interested in the Trump circus."

Noting in his 2,228-word memo that "the world and the state of
journalism [are] in tandem crisis," Arkin delivers a scathing critique
of how _NBC _has responded to the foreign policy of President Donald
Trump—whom he calls "an ignorant and incompetent
impostor"—asserting that "in many ways _NBC_ just began emulating
the national security state itself—busy and profitable. No wars won
but the ball is kept in play."

However, Arkin also delivers a broader condemnation of the network's
coverage of the so-called War on Terror in the nearly 18 years since
9/11, and how it has helped produce a scenario in which "perpetual war
has become accepted as a given in our lives." He writes:

Seeking refuge in its political horse race roots, _NBC_ (and others)
meanwhile report the story of war as one of Rumsfeld vs. the Generals,
as Wolfowitz vs. Shinseki, as the CIA vs. Cheney, as the bad torturers
vs. the more refined, about numbers of troops and number of deaths,
and even then Obama vs. the Congress, poor Obama who couldn't close
Guantanamo or reduce nuclear weapons or stand up to Putin because it
was just so difficult. We have contributed to turning the world
national security into this sort of political story. I find it
disheartening that we do not report the failures of the generals and
national security leaders. I find it shocking that we essentially
condone continued American bumbling in the Middle East and now Africa
through our ho-hum reporting.

Characterizing himself as a "difficult guy" who spent much of his time
at _NBC_ challenging conventional narratives about war and nuclear
weapons and arguing against hawkish U.S. foreign policy both on and
off air, Arkin suggests the state of television news has worsened in
the Trump era. He writes, "In our day-to-day whirlwind and hostage
status as prisoners of Donald Trump, I think—like everyone else
does—that we miss so much."

Summarizing his disagreements with the pro-war positions commonly
bolstered by the network under the Trump administration, Arkin
continues:

For me I realized how out of step I was when I looked at Trump's
various bumbling intuitions: his desire to improve relations with
Russia, to denuclearize North Korea, to get out of the Middle East, to
question why we are fighting in Africa, even in his attacks on the
intelligence community and the FBI. Of course he is an ignorant and
incompetent impostor. And yet I'm alarmed at how quick _NBC_ is to
mechanically argue the contrary, to be in favor of policies that just
spell more conflict and more war. Really? We shouldn't get out Syria?
We shouldn't go for the bold move of denuclearizing the Korean
peninsula? Even on Russia, though we should be concerned about the
brittleness of our democracy that it is so vulnerable to manipulation,
do we really yearn for the Cold War? And don't even get me started
with the FBI: What? We now lionize this historically destructive
institution?

Despite noting that "my time at _NBC_ has been gratifying," and
thanking a few former colleagues by name, Arkin concludes, "I'm ever
so happy to return to writing and thinking without the officiousness
of editorial tyrants or corporate standards." According to the memo,
he is currently working on a novel about 9/11 and "a non-fiction book,
an extended essay about national security and why we never seem to end
our now perpetual state of war."

The letter was welcomed by many critics of corporate media and
American militarism—including _The Intercept_'s Glenn Greenwald, who
praised
[https://theintercept.com/2019/01/03/veteran-nbcmsnbc-journalist-blasts-the-network-for-being-captive-to-the-national-security-state-and-reflexively-pro-war-to-stop-trump/]
Arkin's "scathing and unflinching" passages describing _NBC _and_
MSNBC_ "as pro-war propaganda outlets who exist to do little more than
amplify and serve the security state agencies that are most devoted to
opposing Trump, including their mindless opposition to Trump's
attempts (with whatever motives) to roll back some of the excesses of
imperialism, aggression, and U.S. involvement in Endless War, as well
as to sacrifice all journalistic standards and skepticism about
generals and the U.S. war machine if doing so interferes in their
monomaniacal mission of denouncing Trump."

A veteran national security journalist with NBC News and MSNBC,
William Arkin, blasted the networks in a Monday email for becoming the
prime propaganda instrument of the War Machine’s promotion of
militarism and imperialism, writes @ggreenwald
[https://twitter.com/ggreenwald?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw].
https://t.co/IT26HZoqqV [https://t.co/IT26HZoqqV]

— The Intercept (@theintercept) January 3, 2019
[https://twitter.com/theintercept/status/1080853750280056832?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw]

While pointing out that the pro-war posture of American corporate
media network "has long been obvious, and deeply disturbing,"
Greenwald notes, "Still, that a network insider has blown the whistle
on how all this works, and how _MSNBC_ and _NBC_ have become Ground
Zero for these political pathologies of militarism and servitude to
security state agencies, while not surprising, is nonetheless
momentous given how detailed and emphatic he is in his condemnations."

HERE IS THE FULL TEXT OF ARKIN'S RESIGNATION LETTER, AS REPORTED BY
_CNN _AND CONFIRMED BY _NBC_:

_January 4 is my last day at NBC News and I'd like to say goodbye to
my friends, hopefully not for good. This isn't the first time I've
left NBC, but this time the parting is more bittersweet, the world and
the state of journalism in tandem crisis. My expertise, though seeming
to be all the more central to the challenges and dangers we face, also
seems to be less valued at the moment. And I find myself completely
out of [sync] with the network, being neither a day-to-day reporter
nor interested in the Trump circus._

_I first started my association with NBC 30 years ago, feeding Cold
War stories to Bob Windrem and Fred Francis at the Pentagon. I became
an on-air analyst during the 1999 Kosovo War, continuing to work
thereafter with Nightly News, delighting and oftentimes annoying in my
peculiar position of being a mere civilian amongst THE GENERALS and
former government officials. A scholar at heart, I also found myself
an often lone voice that was anti-nuclear and even anti-military,
anti-military for me meaning opinionated but also highly
knowledgeable, somewhat akin to a movie critic, loving my subject but
also not shy about making judgements regarding the flops and the
losers._

_When the attacks of 9/11 came, I was called back to NBC. I spent
weeks on and off the air talking about al Qaeda and the various wars
we were rushing into, arguing that airpower and drones would be the
centerpiece not troops. In the new martial environment where only one
war cry was sanctioned I was out of sync then as well. I retreated
somewhat to writing a column for the Los Angeles Times, but even there
I had to fight editors who couldn't believe that there would be a war
in Iraq. And I spoke up about the absence of any sort of strategy for
actually defeating terrorism, annoying the increasing gaggles of those
who seemed to accept that a state of perpetual war was a necessity._

_I thought then that there was great danger in the embrace of process
and officialdom over values and public longing, and I wrote about the
increasing power of the national security community. Long before Trump
and "deep state" became an expression, I produced one ginormous
investigation -- Top Secret America -- for the Washington Post and I
wrote a nasty book -- American Coup -- about the creeping fascism of
homeland security._

_Looking back now they were both harbingers for what President Obama
(and then Trump) faced in terms of largely failing to make enduring
change._

_Somewhere in all of that, and particularly as the social media wave
began, it was clear that NBC (like the rest of the news media) could
no longer keep up with the world. Added to that was the intellectual
challenge of how to report our new kind of wars when there were no
real fronts and no actual measures of success. To me there is also a
larger problem: though they produce nothing that resembles actual
safety and security, the national security leaders and generals we
have are allowed to do their thing unmolested. Despite being at "war,"
no great wartime leaders or visionaries are emerging. There is not a
soul in Washington who can say that they have won or stopped any
conflict. And though there might be the beloved perfumed princes in
the form of the Petraeus' and Wes Clarks', or the so-called warrior
monks like Mattis and McMaster, we've had more than a generation of
national security leaders who sadly and fraudulently have done little
of consequence. And yet we (and others) embrace them, even the highly
partisan formers who masquerade as "analysts". We do so ignoring the
empirical truth of what they have wrought: There is not one country in
the Middle East that is safer today than it was 18 years ago. Indeed
the world becomes ever more polarized and dangerous._

_As perpetual war has become accepted as a given in our lives, I'm
proud to say that I've never deviated in my argument at NBC (or at my
newspaper gigs) that terrorists will never be defeated until we better
understand why they are driven to fighting. And I have maintained my
central view that airpower (in its broadest sense including space and
cyber) is not just the future but the enabler and the tool of war
today._

_Seeking refuge in its political horse race roots, NBC (and others)
meanwhile report the story of war as one of Rumsfeld vs. the Generals,
as Wolfowitz vs. Shinseki, as the CIA vs. Cheney, as the bad torturers
vs. the more refined, about numbers of troops and number of deaths,
and even then Obama vs. the Congress, poor Obama who couldn't close
Guantanamo or reduce nuclear weapons or stand up to Putin because it
was just so difficult. We have contributed to turning the world
national security into this sort of political story. I find it
disheartening that we do not report the failures of the generals and
national security leaders. I find it shocking that we essentially
condone continued American bumbling in the Middle East and now Africa
through our ho-hum reporting._

_I'm a difficult guy, not prone to either protocol or procedure and I
give NBC credit that it tolerated me through my various incarnations.
I hope people will say in the early days that I made Brokaw and
company smarter about nuclear weapons, about airpower, and even about
al Qaeda. And I'm proud to say that I also was one of the few to
report that there weren't any WMD in Iraq and remember fondly
presenting that conclusion to an incredulous NBC editorial board. I
argued endlessly with MSNBC about all things national security for
years, doing the daily blah, blah, blah in Secaucus, but also poking
at the conventional wisdom of everyone from Matthews to Hockenberry.
And yet I feel like I've failed to convey this larger truth about the
hopelessness of our way of doing things, especially disheartened to
watch NBC and much of the rest of the news media somehow become a
defender of Washington and the system._

_Windrem again convinced me to return to NBC to join the new
investigative unit in the early days of the 2016 presidential
campaign. I thought that the mission was to break through the machine
of perpetual war acceptance and conventional wisdom to challenge
Hillary Clinton's hawkishness. It was also an interesting moment at
NBC because everyone was looking over their shoulder at Vice and other
upstarts creeping up on the mainstream. But then Trump got elected and
Investigations got sucked into the tweeting vortex, increasingly lost
in a directionless adrenaline rush, the national security and
political version of leading the broadcast with every snow storm. And
I would assert that in many ways NBC just began emulating the national
security state itself -- busy and profitable. No wars won but the ball
is kept in play._
_I'd argue that under Trump, the national security establishment not
only hasn't missed a beat but indeed has gained dangerous strength.
Now it is ever more autonomous and practically impervious to
criticism. I'd also argue, ever so gingerly, that NBC has become
somewhat lost in its own verve, proxies of boring moderation and
conventional wisdom, defender of the government against Trump,
cheerleader for open and subtle threat mongering, in love with
procedure and protocol over all else (including results). I accept
that there's a lot to report here, but I'm more worried about how much
we are missing. Hence my desire to take a step back and think why so
little changes with regard to America's wars._

_I know it is characteristic of our overexcited moment to blast away
at former employers and mainstream institutions, but all I can say is
that despite many frustrations, my time at NBC has been gratifying.
Working with Cynthia McFadden has been the experience of a lifetime.
I've learned a ton about television from her and Kevin Monahan, the
secret insider tricks of the trade and the very big picture of what
makes for original stories (and how powerful they can be). The young
reporters at NBC are also universally excellent. Thanks to Noah
Oppenheim for his support of my contrarian and disruptive presence.
And to Janelle Rodriguez, who supported deep expertise. The Nightly
crew has also been a constant fan of my too long stories and a great
team. I continue to marvel as Phil Griffin carries out his diabolical
plan for the cable network to take over the world._

_I'm proud of the work I've done with my team and know that there's
more to do. But for now it's time to take a break. I'm ever so happy
to return to writing and thinking without the officiousness of
editorial tyrants or corporate standards. And of course I yearn to go
back to my first love, which is writing boring reports about secret
programs, grateful that the American government so graciously obliges
in its constant supply. And I particularly feel like the world is
moving so quickly that even in just the little national security world
I inhabit, I need more time to sit back and think. And to replenish._

_In our day-to-day whirlwind and hostage status as prisoners of Donald
Trump, I think -- like everyone else does -- that we miss so much.
People who don't understand the medium, or the pressures, loudly opine
that it's corporate control or even worse, that it's partisan.
Sometimes I quip in response to friends on the outside (and to
government sources) that if they mean by the word partisan that it is
New Yorkers and Washingtonians against the rest of the country then
they are right._

_For me I realized how out of step I was when I looked at Trump's
various bumbling intuitions: his desire to improve relations with
Russia, to denuclearize North Korea, to get out of the Middle East, to
question why we are fighting in Africa, even in his attacks on the
intelligence community and the FBI. Of course he is an ignorant and
incompetent impostor. And yet I'm alarmed at how quick NBC is to
mechanically argue the contrary, to be in favor of policies that just
spell more conflict and more war. Really? We shouldn't get out Syria?
We shouldn't go for the bold move of denuclearizing the Korean
peninsula? Even on Russia, though we should be concerned about the
brittleness of our democracy that it is so vulnerable to manipulation,
do we really yearn for the Cold War? And don't even get me started
with the FBI: What? We now lionize this historically destructive
institution?_

_Even without Trump, our biggest challenge as we move forward is that
we have become exhausted parents of our infant (and infantile) social
media children. And because of the "cycle," we at NBC (and all others
in the field of journalism) suffer from a really bad case of not being
able to ever take a breath. We are a long way from resolving the rules
of the road in this age, whether it be with regard to our personal
conduct or anything related to hard news. I also don't think that we
are on a straight line towards digital nirvana, that is, that all of
this information will democratize and improve society. I sense that
there is already smartphone and social media fatigue creeping across
the land, and my guess is that nothing we currently see -- nothing
that is snappy or chatty -- will solve our horrific challenges of
information overload or the role (and nature) of journalism. And I am
sure that once Trump leaves center stage, society will have a gigantic
media hangover. Thus for NBC -- and for everyone else -- there is
challenge and opportunity ahead. I'd particularly like to think and
write more about that._

_There's a saying about consultants, that organizations hire them to
hear exactly what they want to hear. I'm proud to say that NBC didn't
do that when it came to me. Similarly I can say that I'm proud that
I'm not guilty of giving my employers what they wanted. Still, the
things this and most organizations fear most -- variability,
disturbance, difference -- those things that are also the primary
drivers of creativity -- are not really the things that I see valued
in the reporting ranks._

_I'm happy to go back to writing and commentary. This winter, I'm
proud to say that I've put the finishing touches on a 9/11 conspiracy
novel that I've been toiling on for over a decade. It's a novel, but
it meditates on the question of how to understand terrorists in a
different way. And I'm undertaking two new book-writing projects, one
fiction about a lone reporter and his magical source that hopes to
delve into secrecy and the nature of television. And, if you read this
far, I am writing a non-fiction book, an extended essay about national
security and why we never seem to end our now perpetual state of war.
There is lots of media critique out there, tons of analysis of
leadership and the Presidency. But on the state of our national
security? Not so much. Hopefully I will find myself thinking beyond
the current fire and fury and actually suggest a viable alternative.
Wish me luck._

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