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NBC News Veteran Warns TV News Has Become Beholden to ‘Trump Circus’

William Arkin has created articles and reports for NBC News and The Los Angeles Times, among other media venues. But he may be remembered for something he wrote for himself.

In a mammoth 2000-word-plus farewell letter, Arkin, a veteran NBC News staffer and analyst who has also written books and for newspapers, warned that “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.”

He praised NBC News for the opportunities it has given him, noting that “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  [NBC News President] Noah Oppenheim for his support 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 world.”

But he openly fretted that in a rush to cover the Trump administration, many mainstream news outlets are losing sight of a significant rise in power of the nation’s national security offices – one that should not be ignored, even though it a story that is more nuanced than black and white “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,” he wrote. “.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.”

Arkin, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer and a human-rights advocacy workers, has a distinguished resume. He is co-author of  Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State,” based on a three-year Washington Post investigation he took part in that examined military, intelligence and corporate interests in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11. 2001.

He is also known for being contrarian. He penned a similar farewell letter when he left Gawker in 2015.

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