I just finished watching an extensive interview of international correspondent Lara Logan by Fox News host Mark Levin. No doubt "liberal/progressive" alarm bells are ringing with the mention of Fox News and Levin in the same sentence, but his weekend programs provide in-depth analysis and mostly uninterrupted dialogue by his guests as they respond to his questions.
Logan was the former CBS News chief foreign correspondent who spent five years in Iraq during the most violent years of the war, additional years living/working in Afghanistan since the beginning of that war, and was in Egypt during the Arab Spring. In the latter, she was subjected to an extremely violent sexual assault, nearly murdered by a mob of Muslim men, and rescued by Muslim women. Yet she courageously continued working in dangerous lands while maintaining her independence as a journalist.
In 2012, Logan was present in Libya during the Benghazi attack on our diplomatic mission. She reported the "cover-up" of that story and the destruction of Chief of Station Gregory Hicks' career after he told the truth to congressional committees about what actually occurred during the murder of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Logan stated it was a planned and highly coordinated attack by al-Qaeda against the embassy annex to mark the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Logan was emphatic that Hicks' version was accurate but embarrassing to the Obama administration, which then used its media allies to bury Hicks and the truth.
Lots of things get buried these days with dire consequences for all of us.
One of the greatest impediments to sound decision-making is a psychological hypothesis known as "groupthink," essentially a subtle but detrimental group concurrence process that begins to work during critical decision-making deliberations. It was best described in Irving Janis' book Groupthink, which analyzed the deliberations of high-level policy makers during various U.S. administrations, from the Korean and Vietnam wars, the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, to the Cuban missile crisis, and other events. The book was mandatory reading during my commissioning process as an Army officer, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in foreign policy decision-making.
It applies even more to society today as media outlets succumb to a herd mentality when reporting on major but controversial policy issues. Logan addressed this in her interview and how there are certain subjects hazardous to the careers of journalists.
An example is reporting on a story about climate change taking a dissenting view; it can be career-ending not only to scientists but to journalists as well. Attacks on conservative talk-show hosts via economic terrorism (Logan's description) and organizing boycotts of advertisers who dare to subscribe/support non-conforming opinion shows—such as Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, or Laura Ingraham—are becoming commonplace and seek to censor contrary points of view from the public.
The LA Times has made it clear it will not print stories on climate change that challenge the "consensus," and the TV news show Meet the Press recently broadcast a show featuring climate change, boasting there would be no guests with dissenting views during that broadcast.
This bias demands that the public uncritically accept whatever is being spoon-fed to them regarding a whole host of topics while passively accepting whatever economic hardships these policies impose at whatever cost with no alternatives being presented. If the proponents are wrong, nobody will be held accountable except the public, which will bear the costs, hardships, and lost opportunities.
Partisanship has blatantly replaced objectivity in much of the media, so much so that facts that should be common knowledge are buried, leading many to be uninformed. For instance, one of my many critics recently repeated the myth that "before 9/11, the White House disregarded multiple warnings from the FBI and CIA," citing the Aug. 6, 2011, presidential briefing as evidence of being "asleep at the wheel," ("A coherent, fact-based opinion," April 4).
Checking the 9/11 Commission report, which addresses this issue, chapter 8, "The System was Blinking Red," pages 254 to 265, it's clear that the president was never given any specific threat information or specifics about an imminent attack on the U.S. The FBI, responsible for counterterrorism on U.S. soil had no information that was "actionable" for the president. Yet, the myths prevail.
My critic also states that the "dossier" used to obtain FISA warrants against the Trump campaign was not manufactured by Russian agents despite multiple news reports confirming so, such as The Washington Post's story by Adam Entous, Devlin Barrett, and Rosalind S. Helderman confirming that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party paid for research that led to the Russian dossier. ("Clinton Campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier," The Washington Post, Oct. 24, 2017).
Media "groupthink" and hatred of this president continues to bury information much needed by the American people, themselves the victim of a national malady of intellectual conformity and shallowness. In foreign policy, groupthink has repeatedly led the nation into disaster. The continued attempt to enforce intellectual conformity via group consensus bodes ill for free speech for all. Δ
Al Fonzi is an Army lieutenant colonel of military intelligence who had a 35-year military career, serving in both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Send comments through the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.