The US military has been showering CNN’s retiring Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr with effusive thanks and praise for her lifetime of service, giving some insight into the cozy working relationship between the media and the war machine inside the US empire.
“Today closes a remarkable career for CNN’s Barbara Starr, a leader in the Pentagon Press Corps,” reads a post by the Twitter account for US Central Command. “Her aggressive reporting and tireless commitment to the truth brought this Nation closer to its military. She will forever be missed.”
“I’d like to take this opportunity to say farewell to our media colleague, Miss Barbara Starr,” Ryder said. “Barbara has reported for CNN for over 20 years, and has been a fixture in the Pentagon Press Corps, and today marks her final day with CNN after a storied and fully-impressive — excuse me — truly impressive career.”
“So Barbara, on behalf of Secretary of Defense Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Milley and the entire Department of Defense, I would like to extend a special congratulations and thank you for your many years of timely, insightful and important reporting on our nation’s most pressing defense issues,” Ryder continued. “And as someone who has worked with you for many of those last 20 years and someone who has had to take your late-night phone calls and emails and answer your tough, but fair questions, I can say from personal experience that the U.S. public and audiences worldwide have been well served by your in-depth reporting from the Pentagon, your journalistic integrity and your determination to tell the stories of service members worldwide, and to ensure the government and DOD remain transparent and accountable to the taxpayers and the American public they serve. Congratulations again, and we wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.”
Today closes a remarkable career for @CNN's @barbarastarrcnn, a leader in the Pentagon Press Corps. Her aggressive reporting and tireless commitment to the truth brought this Nation closer to its military. She will forever be missed. pic.twitter.com/iAyFWJmqwR
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) December 20, 2022
“You know Department of Defense better then [sic] most. We will miss you ! Thanks for your service to our Democracy! Free Independent Press !”, retired lieutenant general Russel L. Honoré told Starr on Twitter.
I actually can’t think of a clearer sign that the US does not have a “free independent press” than for the US military to be gushing affectionately about the career of a longtime CNN Pentagon correspondent, myself. And I can’t think of a more disgraceful way for a journalist to retire than with a standing ovation at the Pentagon.
Surely there can be no clearer a mark of journalistic failure than being thanked by the US military for your lifetime of service. If your journalistic relationship with the corrupt and murderous US military was ever anything other than oppositional, and their feelings toward you anything but hostile, it’s because you were never a journalist. You were their PR agent.
And indeed one need only look at Starr’s output over the course of her career to know that this was the case. Watch her uncritically parroting US government claims about chemical weapons in Syria. Watch the infomercial-like way she reports on US “war on terror” activity in the Middle East. Watch her enthusing about what a “win” the capture of Muammar Gaddafi was for the United States. Watch her finger-wagging at the president of the Philippines after he verbally insulted the president of the United States. Compare the way she talks about allegations of Russian war crimes and US war crimes.
“I’ve been listening to her for years, and I can’t recall a single time she wasn’t just reading a Pentagon press release,” tweeted activist Steve Patt.
— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) December 20, 2022
The US military has such adoration for Barbara Starr because she is a war propagandist, just like the rest of the mainstream western news media who report on US foreign policy. And the Pentagon was joined by Starr’s fellow propagandists in celebrating her storied career.
“You are so well-respected, not only here at CNN but in the broader community of journalists — I know how well-respected you are at the Pentagon,” anchor Erica Hill told Starr on CNN.
“CNN and our viewers have benefited greatly from her truly extraordinary reporting skills and her deep knowledge of the US military, that I truly appreciate as a former CNN correspondent myself,” said CNN’s Wolf Blitzer during his farewell to Starr.
“So well deserved. Barbara was one of the best journalists I worked with at CNN. A Pentagon legend,” tweeted Murdoch pundit Piers Morgan.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) December 20, 2022
This is everything that is wrong with news media in the western world. Journalists are supposed to hold power to account with the light of truth, and that cannot happen if they are building warm, affectionate relationships with the people they’re meant to be aggressively scrutinizing. If the public is getting their information about the workings of the most powerful military force ever assembled by people who are friendly with and sympathetic to that military force, then they cannot possibly be getting accurate information about it. The press cannot possibly be ensuring that “the government and DOD remain transparent and accountable to the taxpayers and the American public they serve.”
And that is of course the point. The mass media of the western world do not exist to inform, they exist to misinform. To create a compliant and obedient populace who doesn’t interfere with the mechanisms of empire or the violence necessary for upholding it. To, as CENTCOM so aptly put it, bring the nation closer to its military.
That was Barbara Starr’s entire job, it will be the job of whoever replaces her, and it will be the job of everyone else in the Pentagon press room with them.
My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube, throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal, or buying an issue of my monthly zine. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. All works co-authored with my American husband Tim Foley.