In the last few years, the national security state has been expanding its power in alarming ways. Intelligence officials have been given unprecedented power in the Trump administration, which has carried out record numbers of CIA drone assassinations. Dozens of former military and intelligence officers ran for office as Democrats in the 2018 midterms, and eleven of them have won House seats. And the hysteria around Russiagate has caused the Democratic Party to aggressively elevate the authority of America’s intelligence agencies, despite the catastrophic war in Iraq that these agencies recently lied us into.
In this environment, it’s seemed normal for numerous intelligence operatives to have recently gained major roles in our political discourse.
The trend I’m about to describe seems to have started with the punditry career of MSNBC’s Malcolm Nance, a formal naval intelligence officer. While Nance’s national security background has made him an insightful source on some issues, he’s used this reputation of reliability to push toxic propaganda narratives-all of which reflect the agenda of the military/intelligence complex that he speaks on behalf of.
For example, in an August 2016 segment, Nance told MSNBC viewers that “Jill Stein has a show on Russia Today.” Despite the fact that Stein has never had a show on RT, Nance has still not addressed this false statement he made. And the incident reflects on how Nance has portrayed similar issues. Nance has baselessly accused the journalist Glenn Greenwald of being “an agent of Trump and Moscow,” tweeted blatant lies about WikiLeaks to support his claim that WikiLeaks has released doctored emails, and consistently reported even the most factually flimsy “Russian meddling” claims as fact.
Nance’s alarming distortions of the truth should have given networks indication that putting more intelligence figures into the media wouldn’t be good for journalism. But since the major news outlets have been in partnership with the CIA for decades, these outlets haven’t hesitated to put many additional intel officials into punditry positions.
Last year, CNN hired former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, despite Clapper’s record of committing perjury by lying to congress and his recent history of xenophobic and bigoted statements about the Russian people. Other intelligence insiders now working for CNN are Michael Hayden, John Kirby, Lisa Monaco, and Spider Marks.
Also, this year MSNBC/NBC hired John Brennan, the CIA chief who helped create the political tool of Russiagate and who orchestrated CIA spying of congress. NBC has also hired former CIA and DoD Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash as the network’s national security analyst, along with CIA-tied reporter Ken Dilanian.
Like Nance, these figures have presented information with clear bias towards government narratives. Brennan and Clapper have been vocal promoters of claims that Russia poses a threat to the U.S., however inaccurate those claims are. This goes along with the recent journalistic behavior of CNN, MSNBC, NBC, and other mainstream media outlets, whose coverage of the intelligence agencies’ claims about Russia mirrors how they treated the claims about WMDs in Iraq. This new prevalence of actual intelligence operatives within the media shows us that the U.S.’ war propaganda machine has only gotten more brazen since 2003.