Stars and Stripes reporters Charlie Reed, Kevin Baron and Leo Shane III (8/27/09) have an update on the military paper’s recent exposure of Iraqi National Congress fabricators the Rendon Group helping the Pentagon in Screening New Embeds in Afghanistan “to determine whether their past coverage has portrayed the U.S. military in a positive light.”
A reporter profile obtained by Stars and Stripes “evaluates work published as recently as May, indicating that the rating practice did not in fact cease last October” as claimed by a Pentagon representative, and “explicit suggestions contained in the Rendon profiles detailing how best to manipulate reporters coverage… directly contradict the PentagonÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬ÃƒÂ¢”Å¾Â¢s stated policies”–purporting to be “in no way intended to prevent release of embarrassing, negative or derogatory information.”
Stars and Stripes has obtained documents that prove that reporters’ coverage is being graded as “positive,” “neutral” or “negative.”
Moreover, the documents–recent confidential profiles of the work of individual reporters prepared by a Pentagon contractor–indicate that the ratings are intended to help Pentagon image-makers manipulate the types of stories that reporters produce while they are embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
One reporter on the staff of one of America’s pre-eminent newspapers is rated in a Pentagon report as “neutral to positive” in his coverage of the U.S. military. Any negative stories he writes “could possibly be neutralized” by feeding him mitigating quotes from military officials.
But really, what are the odds of that working?