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NPR Confesses, more or less...

by Jared Israel (revised 4-14-00)

"We didn't do nothin!" That's what National Public Radio says. Actually, to be 100% accurate, NPR says: "We didn't do nothin' but we knew it was bad so we stopped but only 'cause we wanted to and not because you told us to and we ain't gonna never do it again." Innocence, denial, repentance. Such a dazzling display; and all without commercials.

Here's the statement from NPR:

  • "NOAH ADAMS, host: Interns from the US Army's 4th Psychological Operations Group PSYOPS, were working in the news divisions at both CNN and National Public Radio last year. Both organizations say the interns were placed without the knowledge of senior news management and they will no longer accept any PSYOPS interns. NPR's Brooke Gladstone reports."

    BROOKE GLADSTONE reporting: Last year, CNN played host to five interns from the PSYOPS group. NPR says its three PSYOP interns were employed as temporary administrative news interns, answering phones, filing scripts, copying and preparing program schedules. They each worked for a couple of months beginning in September 1998 and ending in May of last year. In a statement today, NPR president Kevin Klose says that upon learning of the pre-existing relationship of the three interns to the US Army, NPR news management terminated acceptance of such interns in the future. Lieutenant Colonel Paul Mullen(ph) deputy commander of the PSYOPS group, says the internships offered his soldiers a chance to gain some first-hand experience in the news business. (April 10, 2000, All Things Considered, National Public Radio)"

In case you missed it (I did on the first two readings) note the splendid piece of literary mendacity included in the above text: "In a statement today, NPR president Kevin Klose says that upon learning of the pre-existing relationship of the three interns to the US Army..."

Pre-existing relationship to the army? Is that like, you know, being a soldier? "Hey! All you bums with a pre-existing relationship to the army ATTEN-SHUN!" I wish I could do cartoons.

The story has now appeared in the influential British newspaper, the 'Guardian':

US, April 12, 2000

"Two leading US news channels have admitted that they allowed psychological operations officers from the military to work as placement interns at their headquarters during the Kosovo war. Cable Network News (CNN) and National Public Radio, (NPR) denied that the "psy-ops" officers influenced news coverage and said the internships had been stopped as soon as senior managers found out.

"CNN hosted five psy-ops officers as temporary, unpaid workers last year, while NPR took three, all from the army's 4th Psychological Operations Group, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The army's psychological operations are prohibited by law from manipulating the US media.

"After the existence of the CNN internship program was published in the Dutch newspaper, Trouw, the network immediately cancelled it.

"For its part, the army said the program was only intended to give young army media specialists some experience of how the news industry functioned. The interns were restricted to mainly menial tasks such as answering phones, but the fact that military propaganda experts were even present in newsrooms as reports from the Kosovo conflict were being broadcast has triggered a storm of criticism and raised questions about the independence of these networks.

Somebody Better Investigate...soon?
by Jared Israel

The publication today of the story of the CNN-Army Psy-ops connection by the Guardian, a key British daily, illustrates the new power of Internet alternate media.

First published Feb. 21 as two articles by Abe de Vries in Trouw, the Amsterdam daily, the expose was translated and posted at the same day. From there it was picked up by and then by , Alexander Cockburn at and Fair, and other Internet-based alternative media people as well.

With the NPR confession (In the form of "I confess: I didn't do it!") and the Guardian story the exposť has gone mainstream.

I talked to Trouw writer Abe De Vries April 12. His question: What were these Army Psy-ops people actually doing in the CNN and NPR news rooms? The stories of Serbian atrocities have been exposed as media spin ( ). Just how did the army people fit into the process of creating pro-NATO news?

Here's a little thought of my own: could it be that the major news dispensers (like CNN and NPR) are already so thoroughly organized to misrepresent the news about places like Yugoslavia that in fact they're telling the truth when they say the Army Psy-Ops people were there to learn?

Anyway, this is all a bit too much, isn't it? Isn't a public investigation called for? Or is "American free press" such an oxymoron that nobody would take an investigation seriously? JI

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