Longtime "National Security" Journalist Quits NBC Over Network's Pro-War Editorial Position

Longtime Pantsuit affiliated "national security" journalist William Arkin has quit NBC over the editorial pivot by NBC and Pantsuit at large to an overt Pro-War stance. Historically Pantsuitist have been covert in their anti-peace tendencies, but Trump as forced them into a corner with his efforts to curtail self destructive USG military adventures. Arkin's missive of resignation, rambling as it is, is reproduced below for the record:

From: William Arkin 
Date: January 2, 2019 at 11:32:20 AM PST
To: Bill Arkin 
Subject: My goodbye letter to NBC
January 4 is my last day at NBC News and I’d like to say goodbye to my friends,
hopefully not for good. This isn’t the first time I’ve left NBC, but this time the
parting is more bittersweet, the world and the state of journalism in tandem crisis.
My expertise, though seeming to be all the more central to the challenges and
dangers we face, also seems to be less valued at the moment. And I find myself
completely out of synch with the network, being neither a day-to-day reporter nor
interested in the Trump circus.
I first started my association with NBC 30 years ago, feeding Cold War stories to
Bob Windrem and Fred Francis at the Pentagon. I became an on-air analyst
during the 1999 Kosovo War, continuing to work thereafter with Nightly News,
delighting and oftentimes annoying in my peculiar position of being a mere
civilian amongst THE GENERALS and former government officials. A scholar at
heart, I also found myself an often lone voice that was anti-nuclear and even antimilitary,
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.
When the attacks of 9/11 came, I was called back to NBC. I spent weeks on and
off the air talking about al Qaeda and the various wars we were rushing into,
arguing that airpower and drones would be the centerpiece not troops. In the new
martial environment where only one war cry was sanctioned I was out of sync
then as well. I retreated somewhat to writing a column for the Los Angeles
Times, but even there I had to fight editors who couldn’t believe that there would
be a war in Iraq. And I spoke up about the absence of any sort of strategy for
actually defeating terrorism, annoying the increasing gaggles of those who
seemed to accept that a state of perpetual war was a necessity.
I thought then that there was great danger in the embrace of process and
officialdom over values and public longing, and I wrote about the increasing 
power of the national security community. Long before Trump and “deep state”
became an expression, I produced one ginormous investigation – Top Secret
America – for the Washington Post and I wrote a nasty book – American Coup –
about the creeping fascism of homeland security.
Looking back now they were both harbingers for what President Obama (and
then Trump) faced in terms of largely failing to make enduring change.
Somewhere in all of that, and particularly as the social media wave began, it was
clear that NBC (like the rest of the news media) could no longer keep up with the
world. Added to that was the intellectual challenge of how to report our new kind
of wars when there were no real fronts and no actual measures of success. To
me there is also a larger problem: though they produce nothing that resembles
actual safety and security, the national security leaders and generals we have
are allowed to do their thing unmolested. Despite being at “war,” no great
wartime leaders or visionaries are emerging. There is not a soul in Washington
who can say that they have won or stopped any conflict. And though there might
be the beloved perfumed princes in the form of the Petraeus’ and Wes Clarks’, or
the so-called warrior monks like Mattis and McMaster, we’ve had more than a
generation of national security leaders who sadly and fraudulently have done
little of consequence. And yet we (and others) embrace them, even the highly
partisan formers who masquerade as “analysts”. We do so ignoring the empirical
truth of what they have wrought: There is not one country in the Middle East that
is safer today than it was 18 years ago. Indeed the world becomes ever more
polarized and dangerous.
As perpetual war has become accepted as a given in our lives, I’m proud to say
that I’ve never deviated in my argument at NBC (or at my newspaper gigs) that
terrorists will never bedefeated until we better understand why they are driven to
fighting. And I have maintained my central view that airpower (in its broadest
sense including space and cyber) is not just the future but the enabler and the
tool of war today.
Seeking refuge in its political horse race roots, NBC (and others) meanwhile
report the story of war as one of Rumsfeld vs. the Generals, as Wolfowitz vs.
Shinseki, as the CIA vs. Cheney, as the bad torturers vs. the more refined, about
numbers of troops and number of deaths, and even then Obama vs. the
Congress, poor Obama who couldn’t close Guantanamo or reduce nuclear
weapons or stand up to Putin because it was just so difficult. We have
contributed to turning the world national security into this sort of political story. I
find it disheartening that we do not report the failures of the generals and national
security leaders. I find it shocking that we essentially condone continued
American bumbling in the Middle East and now Africa through our ho-hum
I’m a difficult guy, not prone to either protocol or procedure and I give NBC credit
that it tolerated me through my various incarnations. I hope people will say in the 
early days that I made Brokaw and company smarter about nuclear weapons,
about airpower, and even about al Qaeda. And I’m proud to say that I also was
one of the few to report that there weren’t any WMD in Iraq and remember fondly
presenting that conclusion to an incredulous NBC editorial board. I argued
endlessly with MSNBC about all things national security for years, doing the daily
blah, blah, blah in Secaucus, but also poking at the conventional wisdom of
everyone from Matthews to Hockenberry. And yet I feel like I’ve failed to convey
this larger truth about the hopelessness of our way of doing things, especially
disheartened to watch NBC and much of the rest of the news media somehow
become a defender of Washington and the system.
Windrem again convinced me to return to NBC to join the new investigative unit
in the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign. 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 establishmentnot 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 subtlethreat 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.
I know it is characteristic of our overexcited moment to blast away at former
employers and mainstream institutions, but all I can say is that despite many
frustrations, my time at NBC has been gratifying. Working with Cynthia
McFadden has been the experience of a lifetime. I’ve learned a ton about
television from her and Kevin Monahan, the secret insider tricks of the trade and
the very big picture of what makes for original stories (and how powerful they can
be). The young reporters at NBC are also universally excellent. Thanks to Noah
Oppenheim for hissupport of my contrarian and disruptive presence. And to
Janelle Rodriguez, who supported deep expertise. The Nightly crew has also
been a constant fan of my too long stories and a great team. I continue to marvel
as Phil Griffin carries out his diabolical plan for the cable network to take over the
I’m proud of the work I’ve done with my team and know that there’s more to do.
But for now it’s time to take a break. I’m ever so happy to return to writing and
thinking without the officiousness of editorial tyrants or corporate standards. And
of course I yearn to go back to my first love, which is writing boring reports about
secret programs, grateful that the American government so graciously obliges in
its constant supply. And I particularly feel like the world is moving so quickly that
even in just the little national security world I inhabit, I need more time to sit back
and think. And to replenish.
In our day-to-day whirlwind and hostage status as prisoners of Donald Trump, I
think – like everyone else does – that we miss so much. People who don’t
understand the medium, or the pressures, loudly opine that it’s corporate control
or even worse, that it’s partisan. Sometimes I quip in response to friends on the
outside (and to government sources) that if they mean by the word partisan that it
is New Yorkers and Washingtonians against the rest of the country then they are
For me I realized how out of step I was when I looked at Trump’s various
bumbling intuitions: his desire to improve relations with Russia, to denuclearize
North Korea, to get out of the Middle East, to question why we are fighting in
Africa, even in his attacks on the intelligence community and the FBI. Of course
he is an ignorant and incompetent impostor. And yet 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?
Even without Trump, our biggest challenge as we move forward is that we have
become exhausted parents of our infant (and infantile) social media children. And
because of the “cycle,” we at NBC (and all others in the field of journalism) suffer
from a really bad case of not being able to ever take a breath. We are a long way
from resolving the rules of the road in this age, whether it be with regard to our
personal conduct or anything related to hard news. I also don’t think that we are
on a straight line towards digital nirvana, that is, that all of this information will
democratize and improve society. I sense that there is already smartphone and
social media fatigue creeping across the land, and my guess is that nothing we
currently see – nothing that is snappy or chatty – will solve our horrific challenges
of information overload or the role (and nature) of journalism. AndI am sure that
once Trump leaves center stage, society will have a gigantic media hangover.
Thus for NBC – and for everyone else – there is challenge and opportunity
ahead. I’d particularly like to think and write more about that. 
There’s a saying about consultants, that organizations hire them to hear exactly
what they want to hear. I’m proud to say that NBC didn’t do that when it came to
me. Similarly I can say that I’m proud that I’m not guilty of giving my employers
what they wanted. Still, the things this and most organizations fear most –
variability, disturbance, difference – those things that are also the primary drivers
of creativity – are not really the things that I see valued in the reporting ranks.
I’m happy to go back to writing and commentary. This winter, I’m proud to say
that I’ve put the finishing touches on a 9/11 conspiracy novel that I’ve been toiling
on for over a decade. It’s a novel, but it meditates on the question of how to
understand terrorists in a different way. And I’m undertaking two new bookwriting
projects, one fiction about a lone reporter and his magical source that
hopes to delve into secrecy and the nature of television. And, If you read this far,
I am writing a non-fiction book, an extended essay about national security and
why we never seem to end our now perpetual state of war. There is lots of media
critique out there, tons of analysis of leadership and the Presidency. But on the
state of our national security? Not so much. Hopefully I will find myself thinking
beyond the current fire and fury and actually suggest a viable alternative. Wish
me luck.
Sent from my iPhone 

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