Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept, slammed mainstream media outlets for their coverage of Donald Trump’s missile strike against a Syrian base this past week on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” with Fareed Zakaria and Brian Williams being the biggest targets of his criticism.
When asked by host Brian Stelter for his thoughts on how the media has handled the first big demonstration of military force in Trump’s presidency, Scahill called it “atrocious” and called on CNN to stop using retired generals and colonels as military analysts.
Zakaria, who said on CNN that Trump “became the President of the United States” with this attack, got the biggest slam from Scahill.
“You know, Fareed Zakaria — if that guy could have sex with this cruise missile attack, I think he would do it,” Scahill said, also criticizing NBC’s Brian Williams for calling images of the missiles “beautiful” and quoting a Leonard Cohen song with the lyrics “I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.”
Stelter came to the defense of his network and Zakaria, saying that his colleague had other criticisms of Trump that Scahill was not acknowledging.
In his Washington Post column, Zakaria applauded Trump for the missile strike, but argued that Trump has yet to show he has formed a cohesive plan for combating Assad’s forces and ISIS, and that the strike could lead to more bloodshed by emboldening opposition forces. Zakaria also called on Trump to combine his use of military force with humanitarian aid for Syrian civilians and to reconsider his policy on admitting refugees from the Middle East.
When pressed to speak more on his complaints against use of retired generals on cable news, Scahill argued that such generals are often employed by private defense contractors and that such possible connections should be brought up when they appear on news programs.
“I think the public deserves to know the private sector record of these individuals when it came to the weapons industry or profiting…off the proliferation of U.S. wars that happened in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Syria and elsewhere. There is not the kind of transparency that is not required of a truly democratic press when you’re not revealing the extent to which these people have benefited from the private sector in these wars.”
After the show, Scahill gave some praise to certain members of CNN’s news team on Twitter, namely Stelter, Jake Tapper, and international correspondent Arwa Damon.
Watch Scahill’s comments in the clip above.
For the record: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story mischaracterized Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill’s The Intercept.