January 18, 2015

Since the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks, cable news networks have employed many "terror experts" to come on the air and impart their supposed wisdom on the subject. Too many times these "experts" aren't vetted enough and either lack the necessary experience or are shilling their airtime to benefit their own company or one that they are associated with to turn a healthy profit for all those involved. Almost a week ago Jeremy Scahill, called out this terrible practice:

The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill slammed CNN, MSNBC & Fox News for indulging in what he calls the "terrorism expert industrial complex." That's the hiring practice of putting on people who claim to be experts in all things related to terrorism, but in reality are "frauds," who are just around to line their pockets with gold.

On today's edition of Reliable Sources, Scahill explained in greater detail why these ex-military generals and other "terror analysts" are a big problem.

Stelter: You've been highly critical of television news coverage of the war on terror for many years. I wonder if you think the coverage currently on the terror attacks in Europe and this investigation now underway is sowing too much fear in the audience, in the people watching at home?

Scahill: CNN has some great reporters on the ground. Where I think it gets into this kind of fear-generating territory is when you have these so-called ‘terror analysts’ on the air, many of whom also work for risk consultancy firms that benefit from the idea of making us afraid.

I don’t think CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News do anywhere near a good enough job at revealing the potential conflicts of interests of some of the on-air analysts who also work in the private sector and make money off the idea that we should be afraid.

Here's a simple solution for all news organizations. Just vet your invited guests before sending them on the air. if they stand to make a profit from promoting fear, keep them off the air.

Stelter: You understand that's a pretty incendiary charge, that these people want us to be frightened inappropriately for unnecessary reasons.

Scahill: I've spent a lot of years investigating how the war contracting industry works. You'll have these retired generals come on CNN, MSNBC, FOX and they'll talk about a dangerous group in a particular country and they're on the board of a huge weapons manufacturer or a defense company that is gong to benefit from an extension of that war, an expansion of that war.

Perhaps the biggest violator of that is General Barry McCaffrey, who has made a tremendous amount of money off of war contracting and then he's brought onto these networks and treated as just an objective observer.

Scahill explains how the practice works and then names names, or in this case just one, Barry McCaffrey.

It's great to see Jeremy not shy away from putting it all on the line. Gen. McCaffrey is a big time on air analyst, who's a first choice of many networks and it's about time they looked into Scahill's claims for all our sakes and then take the appropriate measures.

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