Defense Industry Consultant Launches Blog, Insults Bloggers

14.08.09

Categorie: Blog Business, David Axe, Reporters |

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by DAVID AXE

Loren Thompson, pictured, a defense industry analyst with the conservative Lexington Institute, has launched a new blog, Early Warning. His goal, Thompson wrote in his inaugural post, is to be “long on facts — especially little known, useful facts — and short on opinions.”

Most military-industry blogs, Thompson contends, are “tendentious nonsense. For every interesting, competent effort like DoD Buzz, there are dozens of ill-mannered rants masquerading as insight. To say that blogs have lowered the standards of public discourse on policy matters is an under-statement — there are no standards. Anybody can say anything.”

It’s no wonder Thompson would highlight DoD Buzz, which is admittedly an excellent blog. DoD Buzz recently praised Thompson as “uber-connected.”

But there’s a reason Thompson is well-connected — and it has nothing to do with diligent reporting or exhaustive research. Thompson is well-connected in the defense industry because defense firms pay to use Thompson as an unofficial spokesman. “He’s a conduit for very high-level people,” Nick Schwellenbach, then an investigator for the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group in Washington, D.C., told the Mobile, Alabama, Press-Register.

“What is often not revealed in news reports … is that almost all funding for Thompson’s employer, the non-profit Lexington Institute, comes from the same defense contractors who frequently have a stake in the programs that he writes about,” the newspaper added.

Said Schwellenbach of Thompson: “He represents a very pro-industry viewpoint. I don’t think you’ll ever see him calling for less spending or cutting programs.” Galrahn at Information Dissemination said Thompson’s recommendations “root in industry, not strategy.”

Many of the most-popular blogs covering the defense industry — DoD Buzz, The DEW Line, Ares, Danger Room, Scoop Deck, Information Dissemination, Eric Palmer’s blog, Flight Lines, the USNI blog, CDR Salamander and others — are written by professional journalists, military officers or highly informed laymen. These people are not just “anyone with a laptop,” as Thompson describes bloggers. Many contributors to these blogs also regularly log time in combat zones, in order to hone their analysis. When was the last time Thompson had to dive into a riverbed to dodge Taliban fire or flee a band of bloody-minded Chadian soldiers?

Besides, as CDR Salamander points out, in the blogosphere your argument, not your resume, is most important. “Let the marketplace of ideas speak for itself, but if [Thompson] thinks his blog is covering anything new, then he isn’t reading blogs.”

(Photo: via Daylife)

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14 Responses to “Defense Industry Consultant Launches Blog, Insults Bloggers”

  1. [...] Axe weighs in on the new Lexington Institude “Blog”, Early Warning. [...]

  2. Loren Thompson says:

    Yikes, I’m a one-man conspiracy! Read the blog, you’ll like it. It’s amazing what you can learn when you get along with contractors. And just for the record, I do criticize programs: in recent months, I have called for cancellation of both the DDG-1000 destroyer and the F-35 alternate engine.

  3. Snowman says:

    “Boots on the ground” beats booting up your computer to blog. I read Axe, COB6 and CDR Salamander, along with Pinch and Lex. Will probably read Thompson as well, but he’ll be after I get the news from the guys who’ve “been there, done that, gotta medal for it”.

    He’s as tone-deaf as POTUS.

  4. Average Joe says:

    I have no problem with Thompson blogging, but I would ask that he do so honestly. When he has a financial relationship to any company or program he is discussing, he needs to disclose this -every time. Otherwise, he should not be taken seriously.

    Based on the posts there now, he seems to be hyping up and repeating the PR from a lot of expensive systems.

  5. Erik Holmes says:

    I wrote the Flightlines post about dodging Taliban fire, and no, I guess Loren has never done that. But that’s not his role. I use Loren as a source regularly, and he is always straight-forward and honest with me. And he’s about the most connected guy you could ask for. He offers the best glimpse into the minds of senior leaders because he knows them personally. I know some people have problems with Loren, but I have always enjoyed working with him — and it has benefited my coverage.

    Erik Holmes
    Air Force Times

  6. geo says:

    LT- Average Joe is on target. TSAT in this instance should stand for Thompson Should Adopt Transparency

  7. Colin Clark says:

    Loren is one of half-a-dozen defense consultants or independent analysts who usually really knows what the hell he is talking about. He engages in that incredibly difficult pursuits called thinking and provides facts, inside info on who is supporting or shafting whom. When he doesn’t know something, he says so. He’s not perfect and sometimes makes arguments that just don’t hang together. One of the reasons so many reporters talk to Loren and quote him is that there are very few people who know as much about as many major programs and their politics. He is, to use a phrase, uber connected.

  8. J. says:

    “Uber-connected” does not mean that he isn’t a hack. From today’s WaPo:

    “The hidden message in the Pentagon personnel data is that this White House really doesn’t care much about defense,” said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute. “The picture I get from all this is that President Obama’s main security goal is just to keep defense off the front page. As long as the Pentagon doesn’t present him with any political problems, he’s content to focus on his domestic agenda and let military matters drift.”
    ———-
    Yeah. What a remarkably stupid and partisan thing to say. SecDef Gates has, under Obama’s direction, done a hell of a lot, but it’s hard to fully staff the DOD (the topic of the article) when Congressional Repubs are doing their best to obstruct any progress. But Thompson refuses to see that, I guess.

  9. WillOTP says:

    Thank goodness for this post. All I ever read during the Tanker battle between Boeing and Northrop Grumman was how important Thompson’s writings were. At first I thought so too, then I saw how unprofessional he seemed.

    He revealed confidential information about the bids he should not have had and could have only obtained from Air Force sources (that’s fine I guess, he’s a ‘reporter’). When DoD started pressing him for where he got the info he tried to back off, but it was too late. He basically burned his Air Force sources to get his name out there as a player. That left me with a pretty low opinion.

    Add on top of that he later flip-flopped his positions from Northrop Grumman to Boeing, it sure looked like some money to the institute was probably involved. It was too obvious a switch for it to be anything else.

  10. [...] Actually, that’s a joke: I don’t care about such code-re-use. Nor do I care if Loren is “being a rude, pompus ass”:http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com/2009/08/phib-why-did-you-start-bloggn.html, or that he earns a living as  a thinker paid by those he thinks (and writes) about (I’m a big fan of maximizing your earning power). [...]

  11. Carlton Meyer says:

    I once referred to Thompson as a whore for the defense industry several years ago in a private e-mail. That somehow got forwarded to him, and he sent me an e-mail in protest. I asked why doesn’t his “institute”, which is a hidden public relations company for defense contractors, post a disclosure on source of funds for his “independent” institute.

    He said anyone could find out by sending forms to the IRS. Of course no one knows to do this, and he refuses to do the honest thing and simply post a disclosure on his website and blog as it would expose his racket.

    In defense, he sometimes calls for the end of a military procurement program, but in these rare cases the program has clearly failed and the Admirals or Generals have already openly called for an end.

  12. [...] is an industry flack posing as an analyst. His opinion changes when the companies issuing his checks [...]

  13. [...] said it before but it warrants repeating: Thompson has received funding from Lockheed. He is basically a paid spokesman, albeit a “stealthy” one. His comments are designed to protect Lockheed’s stock [...]

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