“The Machine of Perpetual War Acceptance”: Veteran NBC Journalist Resigns In Protest Over One-Sided Coverage

This week I published a column on how the Democratic Party seems to have jettisoned many of its defining values to simply become the anti-Trump party. The best example of that transformation is the automatic opposition to Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria and other countries. At the same time, liberal media outlets like CNN and MSNBC have been airing continual experts denouncing the “hasty” withdrawal. Now veteran NBC award-winning journalist William Arkin has resigned in protest of what he says is the unrelenting support of the network for endless wars. He notes that the anti-Trump agenda at the network has overwhelmed what used to be critical coverage of “the machine of perpetual war acceptance and conventional wisdom to challenge Hillary Clinton’s hawkishness.” Now the reflective anti-Trump response at the network has overwhelmed all such considerations, according to Arkin. While Arkin calls Trump “an ignorant and incompetent impostor,” he cites the transformation of NBC into an opposition network as the main reason for his departure.

In my recent speech at the Newseum, I raised the same issue over the change in national media coverage. While praising the investigative reporting of various outlets, I objected to the raw advocacy that you now see from hosts in being live and immediate opposition talking points against new developments in the Administration.

Arkin objected to the same pattern at NBC. In his email, Arkin states that he “argued endlessly with MSNBC about all things national security for years” as a military analyst and became “an often lone voice that was anti-nuclear and even anti-military, anti-military for me meaning opinionated but also highly knowledgeable, somewhat akin to a movie critic, loving my subject but also not shy about making judgements regarding the flops and the losers.” He added;

“I thought that the mission was to break through the machine of perpetual war acceptance and conventional wisdom to challenge Hillary Clinton’s hawkishness. It was also an interesting moment at NBC because everyone was looking over their shoulder at Vice and other upstarts creeping up on the mainstream. But then Trump got elected and Investigations got sucked into the tweeting vortex, increasingly lost in a directionless adrenaline rush, the national security and political version of leading the broadcast with every snow storm. And I would assert that in many ways NBC just began emulating the national security state itself — busy and profitable. No wars won but the ball is kept in play.

“I’d argue that under Trump, the national security establishment not only hasn’t missed a beat but indeed has gained dangerous strength. Now it is ever more autonomous and practically impervious to criticism. I’d also argue, ever so gingerly, that NBC has become somewhat lost in its own verve, proxies of boring moderation and conventional wisdom, defender of the government against Trump, cheerleader for open and subtle threat mongering, in love with procedure and protocol over all else (including results). I accept that there’s a lot to report here, but I’m more worried about how much we are missing. Hence my desire to take a step back and think why so little changes with regard to America’s wars.”

He specifically notes the reflective opposition to Trump as pushing NBC into the role of an advocate for endless war:

“I’m alarmed at how quick NBC is to mechanically argue the contrary, to be in favor of policies that just spell more conflict and more war. Really? We shouldn’t get out Syria? We shouldn’t go for the bold move of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula? Even on Russia, though we should be concerned about the brittleness of our democracy that it is so vulnerable to manipulation, do we really yearn for the Cold War? And don’t even get me started with the FBI: What? We now lionize this historically destructive institution?”

I do not know Arkin but his email again raises a rarely acknowledged concern in the mainstream media over the change in the tenor and balance of our coverage. Trump has changed not just the Democratic Party but the media — untethering both from core defining values.

Click here for William M Arkin’s full email.

30 thoughts on ““The Machine of Perpetual War Acceptance”: Veteran NBC Journalist Resigns In Protest Over One-Sided Coverage”

  1. William M. Arkin tweet:


    Dozens of articles/blogs now written about my letter https://williamaarkin.wordpress.com/2019/01/04/my-departure-letter-from-nbc/ … and yet hardly one of these “reporters” even bothered to contact me for comment or amplification, writing away as they please, and thus again proving current sickness of “journalism.”


  2. The Democrats and the MSM have not changed under Trump, they have just been exposed for what they really are.

  3. Fail to understand how this is a fault attributable to The Donald. The perpetual war machine has been around, and winning, ever since the start of the Korean conflict

    1. You’re forever reminding all of us that you’re innocent of the ability to make a balanced and defensible judgment.

  4. Honestly, why is this news to anyone? By this I mean the criticisms. As far are I’m concerned, the press has always been biased. Since time immemorial individual papers had a view point. That was the whole point of owning a newspaper in the first place. Everyone knew where a particular paper stood. But consolidation and bankruptcy left us with fewer outlets at a time when the broad consensus produced by the Depression and the World War and the Cold War had not eroded. Now we got increasingly fewer outlets, collapsing consensus since the 1960s, and algorithms that substitute for thought in the construction of digital media, which drives print media. Now all of a sudden, audience and the few principled practitioners of “journalism” left are screaming bloody murder because what has always been true becomes inescapably obvious to even the stones in the street.

    Where were you when it mattered? I.e., in 1960s, during the Nixon administration, while the Democrats and their consensus politics and administrative state dominated law-making 1936-1985, 2006-2016? Why do you discover the corruption of media when Trump takes office?

  5. Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    In response to: “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”
    Offensiveness is a necessary consequence of opinions strongly held and openly expressed, and free societies should treasure and protect it. An idea that offends no one is not worth entertaining.

    dennis hanna

  6. Veteran NBC/MSNBC Journalist Blasts the Network for Being Captive to the National Security State and Reflexively Pro-War to Stop Trump

    by Glenn Greenwald

    January 3 2019, 8:27 a.m.


    “Still, that a network insider has blown the whistle on how all this works, and how MSNBC and NBC have become ground zero for these political pathologies of militarism and servitude to security state agencies, while not surprising, is nonetheless momentous given how detailed and emphatic he is in his condemnations.”

  7. Trump has not changed the Democratic Party. That is blaming someone else for one’s own actions.

    The Democratic Party has been bashing conservatives as evil for decades now. Throw Grandma Off a Cliff. Ad hominem has substituted for debate for quite a while now. We have been instructed that Republicans are evil since grade school for at least two generations.

    The Democratic Party has just upped the rhetoric because we have a Republican president who doesn’t take it lying down like Bush did. Granted, I wish Trump was more effective in his quarrels. But the trend for decades was for prominent Republicans to take the high road when called a Fascist, racist, etc. It’s like a Mad Lib. When discussing any Republican, insert insult here. Bush and Reagan were both called Fascist, which is actually a form of Socialism and therefore should have been dismantled as a nonsense epithet against Republicans years ago. But it wasn’t, so it stuck. Today’s students have no idea the irony of themselves supporting Socialism and various Socialist Dictatorships, due to Russian propaganda in America, while simultaneously declaring Republicans Fascist. Gentile advanced Socialism with Fascism. Subverted individual rights in the name of the Common Good as dictated by government. It is Democrats who would usher in a modern age of Fascism.

    Bush was a classy guy. He didn’t roll in the mud with insults. He was called a Fascist and a war monger. Then you have Trump who loves to insult with his Tweets just like the mainstream media pundits do. He couldn’t find the High Road with a map. That drives Democrats crazy. But one has to wonder, wait, did you not really mean it when you called every single Republican prior a Fascist? Now it’s for-realsies with Trump? Apparently, a guy who makes mean Tweets, which would fold in nicely with Democrats if they had been lobbed against Republicans, will usher in a global permanent recession, and make the seas rise. Just ignore Obama declaring that voting him in office was going to be viewed by future Americans as the day the seas stopped rising.


    Trevor Aaronson, Ali Younes
    January 3 2019, 11:30 a.m.

    In partnership with Al Jazeera



    During the final days of 2018, the U.S. campaign bombed villages up and down the Euphrates, focusing primarily on Al Kashmah. On the night of New Year’s Eve, the bombs relentlessly assaulted Al Kashmah, leaving the village largely destroyed by the next morning, according to an ISIS fighter who was there. (We interviewed members of ISIS and the SDF, as well as a tribal leader, for this article via messaging services, and we’ve granted them anonymity because they all stand to be targeted by the various warring factions for speaking to journalists.)

    The coalition against ISIS appears to be targeting internet cafes, according to two sources on the ground. Internet cafes in the villages are used by civilians and ISIS fighters alike. They are not part of ISIS’s tactical communications infrastructure, according to sources, but the militants typically use them to communicate with the outside world, especially their families in other countries.

    “They just like to disrupt and mess everything up,” an ISIS fighter said in an interview. “They bombed the places where they sell gasoline for the motor, or they sell cooking oil, or where they filter the water — they bomb all these places. Not just the ‘net, they bomb everything just to make your life horrible.”

    The risk of civilian casualties from bombings in Deir al-Zour is high because the rural villages have become densely populated with the families of ISIS fighters and civilians fleeing in recent months from more densely populated cities and towns that have fallen to Kurdish-led forces. “No building is empty here,” the ISIS fighter said, referring to the remaining ISIS-controlled villages in Deir al-Zour. Fighters and civilians in the villages have reportedly been describing the U.S. bombing campaign as a scorched-earth policy, using an Arabic term that translates to “burn the ground.”

    On Sunday, the U.S. military admitted that it’s killed 1,139 civilians in Iraq and Syria since the start of its campaign against ISIS in 2014. That number is significantly smaller than the estimates of civilian casualties put out by monitoring groups, like Airwars, which says that between 7,308 and 11,629 civilians have been killed.

    In response to a list of questions about the bombings in Syria, a spokesperson for the Department of Defense said in a statement that the coalition dictates “the pace of our strikes against ISIS targets deliberately and with careful consideration of their impact to civilians. The increase in strikes in late December were selected specifically to degrade ISIS capabilities and were unrelated to any other variable.”

    Following Trump’s withdrawal announcement, the Kurds, who lead the on-the-ground forces that had partnered with the United States in fighting ISIS in Syria, reached out to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria for protection. Feeling betrayed by the United States, the Kurds are concerned about a possible attack by Turkey, which has long feared that its own minority Kurdish population might be emboldened by the existence of a Kurdish state or autonomous region south of Turkey. (In March 2018, Turkish Armed Forces and allied militia seized control of the Syrian city of Afrin from the Kurds.)

    In addition, after the evacuation of civilians from Al Kashmah, ISIS negotiated a three-day ceasefire with the Kurds, according to three sources on the ground. On Monday, seven trucks carrying food and humanitarian aid entered ISIS-controlled areas under the agreement, according to one ISIS and one SDF source. The ceasefire was initially scheduled to end December 31, but ISIS officials are discussing a possible six-month extension, according to an ISIS fighter familiar with the talks but who is not directly part of the effort. During the temporary ceasefire, some ISIS fighters and defectors fled Deir al-Zour to other parts of Syria, according to two sources who made such journeys themselves.

    A lasting cease fire would allow badly needed supplies to reach civilians in the villages, and ISIS would also use it to regroup. The Kurds would receive a safeguard from a two-front war if the Turks attack.

    A ceasefire between ISIS and the Kurds, coupled with the Syrian government’s potential protection of the Kurds from Turkey, would largely undercut part of Trump’s public rationale for withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria. In a tweet, Trump described how Turkey could “easily take care of whatever remains” of ISIS. In a subsequent tweet, the president spoke of his conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan:

    Donald J. Trump


    President @RT_Erdogan of Turkey has very strongly informed me that he will eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria….and he is a man who can do it plus, Turkey is right “next door.” Our troops are coming home!

    10:54 PM – Dec 23, 2018

    But the prospect of Turkey’s completion of a clean-up job against ISIS in Syria seems increasingly unlikely given the rapidly shifting alliances there.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. military continues to drop bombs on Deir al-Zour, despite the fact that the Kurds, freshly abandoned by the United States, are not currently engaging ISIS fighters.

    “They’ve backstabbed all their allies and they’re killing the people here,” the ISIS fighter said, referring to the United States. “Eventually the Islamic State will survive and spread or it will fall, but there will be people here who will remember what happened here, and they will carry on this information and it will spread throughout the Middle East.”

  9. “Trump has changed not just the Democratic Party but the media — untethering both from core defining values.” Oh yes they were just wonderful honest folks till Trump came along, yea right. You have a terrible habit of blaming Trump for who these news organizations and political organization are. He isn’t breaking their arms for being dishonest, unethical and hate filled, you are who you are no one makes you act the way you do.

  10. Just another intelligence community leftist who turned into a deep-stater propagandist and who now holds in contempt any elected representative who disagrees with him. Sayonnara.

  11. The only way to fight this propaganda is “Seig Me No Heils Comrade we do not sereve The Party or The Collective we are Constitutionalists.”

  12. The former Democrat party now the fascist Socialist Regressive Party is without doubt and with no argument to the contrary the War Monger Party and has been since 1909 Anyone who says different is for one thing contradicting the major source for that statement. The major history books aka ANY annual edition of the NY Times Annual World Almanac and Book of Facts now published under a separate name but still the same

    1. List of Presidents from inauguaral date to inauguaral date
    2. List of Wars, conflicts, police actions and all other names by date begun, finished
    3. Number of War dead.
    4. Comparison to increase in taxes during those particular times.

    Then make one small minor but important change to the titles of the Parties.

    List R for Republican or G For GOP it matters not there are not that many in the list.

    List P for Progressives instead of D for Democrat. D is used only for pre 1909.

    Then match what the Progressives have in common with any Constitutionally oriented political party and whhere their commonality and allegiance can be found.

    So first we get the Century of Great Socialist Wars WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and more continued into it’s second Century. Non stop with an extremelyh high death toll of US Citizens only to arrive at the last three left standing still trying for first place. In order of appearance.

    International Socialism from the late 1800s
    Progressive Socialism from the early 1900s
    National Socialism since the 1920’s.

    You know them best as

    Fascist Nazi
    Progressive Liberal Socialists

    US Service members alone greater than half a million total

    Or are you saying your beloved NY Times was lying to you along with the party in power and in the White House for the vast majority of those Wars where…

    P for Progressives stands almost completely alone and at the helm of ALL major wars.

    And you want to let this evil loose on the world again?

    …past time for return to our Representative Constitutional Republic system and drive the war mongers out of not only the White House and congress but out of the country.

    And when you have more than 20 plus years combat arms times you can open your yap but until then STF up. Because WE paid the price not you. Which reminds me get rid of that GD fascist un constitutional draft or make it equal opportunity. Way past time to treat the women as first class citizens instead of second class baby factories.

    Most of you know the list and numbers I’ve put them in this blog many times. Did you really look at what the progressives have done to OUR Republic while claiming to be Our Democracy another lie that has never existed except if you only count we independent self governing un affiliated citizens? We’re the only thing democratic left from the dreams of the founders and you are not especially the party whose allegiance is only to a foriegn ideology.

  13. The media has decided to become propaganda outlets for one party or the other.

    As such, the media has failed itself and failed in its responsibilities.

    Next time you see the self satisfied “media stars”, recognize that they are hacks selling a partisan perspective, not objective purveyors of facts.

  14. Mr. Arkin has certainly raised numerous questions regarding Public Policy, on a number of most valid fronts. Conflicted? IMO yes. On the 1 hand, the ignorant and incompetent impostor known as POTUS seems to demonstrate similar war free goals as Mr. Arkin. Out of Syria, reducing tensions with Russia, denuclearize N. Korea, and lionize a historically destructive institution (FBI)? Becoming a Nuclear free planet.
    It’s the blind hatred of a non politician who was elected as the chief politician of a political party. Who Knew? I doubt even he knew. Be that as it may, there are some goals that seem to have a common thread, if one can get their mind working once again (highly doubtful). But what about the upcoming roster of Democrats who will be running for POTUS in 2020? What is their goal for the world in conflict? Since the average American votes for POTUS based on who’s turn it is, who’s what sex, who’s going to give out more money, there is hardly enough time in any endless debate about the real issues and their consequences – consequences that the average person has little knowledge of and could care less.
    Thank you teachers, one and all, for actively dumbing down America.

    1. The Comrades have spoken and so shall their programmers and The Collective.

  15. The other formal openly declared abandonment of Democratic (big D) principle is the adoption of “PayGo” as a House Rule, wherein all new spending must be accompanied by either a spending cut elsewhere or a tax increase of equal magnitude. In Europe it is called “Austerity,” and it is why there has neen uncontrolled rioting on the streets in France for three months. You didn’t know about the rioting in France, or thought it was a brief riot lasting a weekend or two? Well, that’s how the US media reported it, but…

  16. Fox “News” has done nothing but bash one party while glorifying the other. By doing that they gained a large audience. It’s no surprise that others would copy that seemingly lucrative model, rather than delivering accurate but unprofitable balanced news.

    1. Fox News was created to be a counter to the liberal media. As the MSM grew more and more progressive, an opening was created for an organization like Fox to fill the void. It’s just what they did. And powerful at that. If there was no market, it wouldn’t have worked. Got to remember that simple but true fact!

    2. Wait, so you’re saying that the mainstream media did not show marked Left bias until after the formation of Fox News? And…you believe this?

      The niche for Fox News was to combat the Democrat Propaganda in the mainstream media. Without extreme Leftist universal bias, there wouldn’t be a Fox News or Rush or the proliferation of conservative independent channels.

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