January 9, 2020

Judd Legum, founder of Think Progress and now publisher of Popular Information, answers the question that's been bugging so many of us this week: "Why is Joe Lieberman on my teevee?"

Popular Information assembled this information by reviewing transcripts of segments about Iran appearing on Fox News, Fox Business, and CNN between January 3 and January 7. Transcripts of segments about Iran on MSNBC’s primetime shows over the same time period were also reviewed. (Transcripts of MSNBC’s daytime programming were not available.)

It is a small slice of the overall coverage of Iran. But it illustrates how a significant portion of the information about foreign policy broadcast to Americans comes from people with undisclosed financial conflicts.

It's not just Joe Lieberman. But I know the suspense is killing you, so here's the short answer: Lieberman (and virtually every other Very Serious Person who's cheerleading the Iran strike on your teevee) makes his paycheck shilling for the defense industry. Quelle coincidence! And, as Legum points out, no TV host bothered to point out the financial conflicts of interest:

Lieberman works for Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), an Israeli weapons manufacturer that recently opened an office in DC “with the aim of winning new contracts in the United States.” Lieberman, who was hired through his law firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres, was brought on to “strategically advise IAI in its activities in the U.S. and its relations with the Department of Defense.”

William Cohen. Former Clinton secretary of defense. "The Cohen Group assists aerospace and defense firms on policy, business development and transactions.' The firm touts that it “has assisted [defense] clients to compete for and win tens of billions of dollars in contracts.' "

Michael Chertoff. Homeland Security Secretary under Bush. "Chertoff is chairman of the board of the American subsidiary of BAE Systems, the fourth largest weapons manufacturer in the world."

Dave Deptula. Former “Air Force Lieutenant.” But he is also Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, which is part of the Air Force Foundation. "The purpose of the Mitchell Institute is to 'empower our nation’s leaders by… [e]ducating about aerospace power's unique role in securing America's global interests.' The Air Force Foundation is financed by numerous large defense contractors, including BAE Systems, Boeing and Lockheed Martin."

John Negroponte. Former Iraq ambassador under George W. Bush. Coincidentally, also the "Vice-Chairman of McLarty Associates, an international lobbying firm that represents the defense industry."

James Stavridis. Introduced as a former NATO supreme allied commander and author of the book ‘Sailing True North.’” Guess what? He is also the the Chair of the Board of Counselors at McLarty Associates, that same firm Negroponte works for.

Mark Kimmitt. Identified as “a former state and Defense Department official under George Bush and former deputy director of coalition forces in Iraq.” Since 2011, "Kimmitt has worked as a consultant for companies in the defense industry at his own firm, MTK Defense Consultants."

Don Bramer. Naval intelligence officer. The Bramer Group is "currently a registered lobbyist for three defense contractors ⁠— ​ARCH Global Precision, ​Kongsberg Protech Systems, and MSI-Defense Systems US."

Dan Hoffman. Former CIA station chief. "On the advisory board of the BGR Group, a government relations firm. The BGR Group “represents a number of major defense companies focused on shaping and informing U.S. national security policy.” As an advisory board member, Hoffman “provides strategic advice and counsel to BGR clients.”

Geeze, at least when you're watching the NFL, they're wearing the team colors right there in public!

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