Three years after he was busted in a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigation, General Barry McCaffery is still stoking fears of Iran on NBC and consulting the network's executives and producers.
It's hard to say which activity is more disturbing given that, in 2008, the Times' David Barstow revealed that McCaffrey was participating in a Pentagon program to make the case for war in Iraq and working for defense contractors—all the while infusing hawkish opinons presented as objective analysis on various NBC news programs in the run-up to the 2003 invasion.
The first bit of news, regarding McCaffrey's briefings to NBC employees, comes from Salon's Glenn Greenwald who confirmed last night that McCaffrey had presented a seminar to about 20 NBC executives and producers, including NBC News President Steve Capus, entitled "Iran, Nukes & Oil: The Gulf Confrontation."
"They are likely to further escalate," reads McCaffrey's PowerPoint slide on Iran. "They will not under any circumstances actually be deterred from going nuclear. They will achieve initial nuclear capability within 36 months."
Just as in the run-up to the Iraq war, McCaffrey's consulting ties are rarely cited in his title as "NBC military analyst." And when Greenwald called McCaffrey to ask if "any of his ample consulting clients would benefit from a war with Iran" he received no reply. (Greenwald offers the entire PowerPoint slide here.)
“In the coming five years the Iranians are going nuclear. Within 60 months they’ll have a dozen weapons. They’ve got Shahab-3 missiles. Probably more than 150 now that can strike Israel," he said. “We’re going to face a nuclear-armed Iran in the very near future. And this is bad news for the region and world peace.”
The Salon piece is a woefully inaccurate, ignorant, insulting depiction of our editorial process.
Mr. Greenwald has stumbled upon a defining journalistic and organizational tool that differentiates us as a global news organization: our longstanding tradition of editorial board meetings with leading analysts and news makers. He chose to write the piece while not personally having one conversation with anyone from this news organization, so to critique how we do our reporting is quite ironic.
We listen to and value the views of retired Four-Star General Barry McCaffrey. He presented his thoughts on Iran in a recent editorial board meeting at NBC News. As have several senior officials from countries throughout the Middle East that represent vastly different world views. In similar sessions, we have received the views of current and former US government officials. We have been afforded the views of Israeli and other foreign governmental officials. We have heard from non-governmental organizations, respected journalists and opinion leaders.
There is no singular view of editorial issues that permeate our editorial discussions. Indeed, editorial board meetings, with diverse representation are an important part of any open-minded journalistic enterprise.