Caitlin Johnstone: US Military’s Tribute to CNN Reporter

It’s hard to imagine a more disgraceful way for a correspondent to retire than with a standing ovation at the Pentagon.

Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder delivering a farewell to Barbara Starr, longtime CNN defense correspondent. (C-Span still)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to a reading of this article.

The U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. Central Command. “Her aggressive reporting and tireless commitment to the truth brought this Nation closer to its military. She will forever be missed.”

Starr received a standing ovation at a Pentagon press briefing on Tuesday after Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder sang her praises and thanked her for two decades on the job.

“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.”

“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.

It’s hard to imagine a clearer sign that the U.S. does not have a “free independent press” than for the U.S. 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.

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Surely there can be no clearer a mark of journalistic failure than being thanked by the U.S. military for your lifetime of service. If your journalistic relationship with the corrupt and murderous U.S. 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.

Watch Starr uncritically parroting U.S. government claims about chemical weapons in Syria. Watch the infomercial-like way she reports on U.S. “war on terror” activity in the Middle East. Watch her enthusing about what a “win” the capture of Libya’s 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 U.S. war crimes.

Jan. 30, 2015: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel with CNN’s Barbara Starr during an interview at the Pentagon. (Adrian Cadiz, U.S. Secretary of Defense, Flickr)

“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.

“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 U.S. 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.

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 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.”

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.


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18 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: US Military’s Tribute to CNN Reporter

  1. Ricardo2000
    December 24, 2022 at 19:53

    Aldous Huxley ‘After Many a Summer Dies the Swan’: “…But the fact remains, nevertheless, that you can’t help if they persist in the course of behaviour which originally got them into their trouble. For example, you can’t preserve people from the horrors of war if they won’t give up the pleasures of nationalism. You can’t save them from slumps and depressions so long as they go on thinking exclusively in terms of money and regarding money as the supreme good. You can’t avert revolution and enslavement if they will identify progress with the increase of centralization and prosperity with the intensifying of mass production. You can’t preserve them from their collective madness and suicide if they persist in paying divine honours to ideals which are merely projections of their own personalities – in other words, if they insist on worshiping themselves…”

    It’s surprising that the Pentagon didn’t pin one of their cheap memorials to cruelty and stupidity on her puffed chest. US-NAYOYO military spending is being revealed in Ukraine as a fraud that can’t fight any war, maintain officer loyalty through career enlistments, or protect human rights and democracy. Creeps like Starr make excuses for genocidal crimes against humanity.

    Frantz Fanon: “The business of obscuring language is a mask behind which stands the much bigger business of plunder.”

    Barbara Tuchman ‘The March of Folly’: “Wooden-headedness…plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs. It is acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts.”

  2. WA Zdaniewski
    December 24, 2022 at 14:45

    It started with Edward Bernays, the autor
    of Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923), Propaganda (1928) and The Engineering of Consent (1947), continued to Goebbels, propaganda minister of the III Reich, to contemporary propagandists. In Poland we have Jacek Kurski first propagandist of the state television TVP – tool of the PIS party.

    • AG
      December 25, 2022 at 10:34

      how is the situation in Poland? From Berlin it appears 40 Mio. Poles are about to go to war. But that I assume is a shiny media image only, or is it not?

  3. Lydia Riley
    December 24, 2022 at 10:43

    If my memory serves, Miss Starr was involved in the Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky affair: she was a confidant to Monica in the White House. Perhaps others can fill in some of the blanks on that, but I recall raising my eyebrows at the role she was reported to have played as “friend” to Monica, wondering if she was encouraging and reporting on the Bill/Monica affair to others in order to compromise Clinton –and/or perhaps provide blackmail material?

  4. torture this
    December 24, 2022 at 09:29

    They stopped quoting CIA liars and put them on set as analysts. I suspect the money wasted on this Pentagon stenographer will be cut from their budget now, too.

  5. Dave S
    December 24, 2022 at 01:49

    “…..and to ensure the government and DOD remain transparent and accountable to the taxpayers and the American public they serve.”

    Obviously Starr never asked him any embarrassing pork barrel questions about the trillions of mysteriously missing and unaccountable dollars!

  6. AG
    December 23, 2022 at 23:23

    It´s not so much as “The press cannot possibly be ensuring that “the government and DOD remain transparent and accountable to the taxpayers and the American public they serve.”

    – Isnt´t the point that the press is not even accomplishing the minimum task of ensuring transparency and accountability?

    If there were doing at least that.

    But what Starr did was NOT ensuring transparency.

    Or to put it the other way: If transparency and accountability were really what the DOD meant they would certainly not want that.

    (DOD doesn´t know the real meaning of those two words. As doesn´t Mrs. Starr.)

    There is nothing wrong with transparency and accountability. After all it would mean to report lies, report on wasting tax money, on committing crimes, on destroying this planet.

    But yes: The deep-seated problem is the inherent “mutual respect” and simulation of integrity in the relationship of the two entities, press and military.

    On the other hand: How much info would you get if Pentagon were to regard you as hostile?

    So eventually. It´s the affirmative quality of professional culture itself.

    As soon as you have such a thing as a corps reporting on the military you will always be “embedded” one way or the other.

    If you don´t want that, stop putting those people in the same room.
    Forbid them to spend time together.

    But then the reporting becomes difficult.
    Then the journalists operate more like judges who shall not see the culprit outside the courtroom.

    So it´s not easy. Which makes Starr so problematic because she has found an easy way.
    At least she should have tried to “struggle”.

  7. Rob Roy
    December 23, 2022 at 16:15

    Accolades for this woman made me gag. Literally.

  8. Rudy Haugeneder
    December 23, 2022 at 14:12

    Good to see her gone.

  9. rosemerry
    December 23, 2022 at 13:38

    I am very glad to say I have never heard of her before.

  10. shmutzoid
    December 23, 2022 at 12:08

    The so-called ‘journalists’ like Starr who fawn over US militarism are lavished praise by the Pentagon. The TRUTH tellers who report on US war crimes or waste/fraud/abuse are persecuted to no end. Julian Assange’s ordeal is how the US TRULY feels about real journalism. His prosecution/prosecution is a threat/warning to journalists worldwide to NEVER look too closely at what the Empire is doing around the world.
    ——– CNN and the rest will have ex Army Generals and the like on their shows as ‘military experts’. it is NEVER disclosed that they’re on the board of Raytheon, Boeing, Lockeed, etc.
    ——— in the former Soviet Union, the people at least KNEW what they were reading in Pravda was propaganda. In the US now, the pretense of corporate ‘news’ outlets as neutral arbiters of events/issues still holds sway. It’s sooo pervasive people can’t see it. From CNN to NPR to the NY Times to the WaPo to the news feeds folks see on their phones—-> ALL of it is state propaganda, especially in the realm of foreign affairs. ——- Mention Operation Mockingbird to anyone and you’ll get a blank stare.

  11. Cerena
    December 23, 2022 at 11:23

    B. Starr, the CIA stenographer, a proud Presstitute!

    • nwwoods
      December 23, 2022 at 22:10

      When I heard today that that chubby, curly haired Ponzi guy whose name escapes me had been granted bail after clearly stealing billions of dollars, I reflected on the way Julian Assange has been so grossly mistreated by the UK/US injustice system, having never clearly violated any law in any jurisdiction, much less the one which seeks his death behind bars.

    • nwwoods
      December 23, 2022 at 22:13

      Sex workers seldom ever choose their means of earning a living but end up doing what they do out of desperation, whereas media sycophants like Starr, and any other CNN reporter for that matter, expressly go out of there way to trade their sycophancy to access to power.

    • Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
      December 24, 2022 at 04:10

      Beg your pardon ? Presstitude ? I fell in love with your freshly-minted word and am inspired to kick start here a series : Medititude, Edutitude, Sportitude, Cultitude and may God forbid it not also Religititude ! Humanitiy is presently headed to degrading times. The need of our age is to redeem the true honour of those actually noble sectors and professions and work to restore their social dignity. Rabid capitalism and unregulated privatizations have made brothels of these sectors and total tarts of those “professionals”. When a standing ovation at the Pentagon is seen as a disgrace and no as an honour, as Caitlin rightly and boldly states, we know we are indeed living in horrible times !

      • Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
        December 24, 2022 at 04:14

        Sorry, the suffixes should be spelt : -titute and not -titude.

  12. December 23, 2022 at 10:08

    To misquote Frank Zappa, the mass media is just the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex.

  13. Packard
    December 23, 2022 at 09:21

    Tut, Tut, Tut!

    When a longtime faithful and utterly reliable member of your organization is retiring, it is only proper to give that person a big wet kiss along with a fond farewell. Hopefully, someone thought to bake a cake for Ms. Starr’s party.

    [See also: US State Department, CIA, DOJ, & FBI vis a vis retiring acolytes of the MSM/Silicon Valley/Wall Street. ]

Comments are closed.