In a Christmas eve news dump, the Pentagon released a report clearing its program that sought to “brief” TV news military analysts. The New York Times‘ David Barstow–whose work covering the story helped crack it open back in 2008–has more on the report:
The inspector general’s investigation grappled with the question of whether the outreach constituted an earnest effort to inform the public or an improper campaign of news media manipulation.
The inquiry confirmed that Mr. Rumsfeld’s staff frequently provided military analysts with talking points before their network appearances. In some cases, the report said, military analysts “requested talking points on specific topics or issues.” One military analyst described the talking points as “bullet points given for a political purpose.” Another military analyst, the report said, told investigators that the outreach program’s intent “was to move everyone’s mouth on TV as a sock puppet.”
The inquiry also confirmed that Mr. Rumsfeld’s staff hired a company to track and analyze what the military analysts said during their media appearances. According to the report, four military analysts reported that they were ejected from Mr. Rumsfeld’s outreach program “because they were critical” of the Pentagon.
The report also noted NBC News military analyst Gen. Barry McCaffrey (pictured above), who was a focal point of much of the coverage:
One former Pentagon official told the investigators that when Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general and NBC military analyst, “started challenging” Mr. Rumsfeld on air, he was told that Mr. Rumsfeld wanted him “immediately” removed from the invitation list because General McCaffrey was no longer considered a “team player.” Mr. Rumsfeld told investigators that he did not recall ordering General McCaffrey’s exclusion.
Much more from Barstow, here.