Tonight‘s runner-up, General David Petraeus. It turns out his role as a press flack for President Bush began long before his embarrassing testimony to Congress last September. Pentagon documents say that hoping to soften up the military panelists scheduled for “Meet The Press” on August 28, 2005, Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita had a deputy assistant secretary of defense contact Petraeus in Iraq and ask him to start shilling. Petraeus promptly got on the phone to each of the military analysts and gave them supposedly insider accounts of how well things were going in Iraq.
Olbermann is referring to this post on the blog Think Progress, which is following up on the New York Times piece on Pentagon analysts that the far left is going batty over because story isn’t making more of a splash. Oddly enough, Olbermann is implicating NBC’s own expert, General Barry McCaffrey, with this. Brian Williams offered his take on all of this a few weeks ago:
I made four trips to Iraq with Wayne. We were together, in close quarters, for over two months at the start of the war and survived at least one harrowing adventure. I won’t attempt to respond on Wayne’s behalf, and I know Barry McCaffrey has his own response to the article.
All I can say is this: these two guys never gave what I considered to be the party line. They were tough, honest critics of the U.S. military effort in Iraq. If you’ve had any exposure to retired officers of that rank (and we’ve not had any five-star Generals in the modern era) then you know: these men are passionate patriots. In my dealings with them, they were also honest brokers. I knew full well whenever either man went on a fact-finding mission or went for high-level briefings. They never came back spun, and never attempted a conversion. They are warriors-turned-analysts, not lobbyists or politicians.
Maybe someone should ask Senator Obama if he thinks smearing General Petraeus as a press flack is an appropriate description of the general’s service.