The Washington Post

Time partners with CNAS, but is it good for journalism?

Time magazine and the Center for a New American Security have partnered to produce a new video series, Command Post. The series will examine key national security issues over the course of a week. Command Post will be co-hosted by CNAS President John Nagl and Time Pulitzer Prize winning national security correspondent Mark Thompson.

“Command Post will work to inform the American people about principled, pragmatic defense and security policies that will keep the country strong and safe,” said Nagl in a released statement.

The CNAS-Time project marks another collaboration between the think tank and media outlets of the kind that has been criticized in the past. The venture raises the question of whether think tanks, which may be beholden to their funders, make good partners for mainstream media.

In other words: Is there a conflict of interest for Time, directly or indirectly, by creating content that is at least partly determined by a think tank?

The first two installments focus on Afghanistan and include only Thompson and CNAS personnel: Nagl, CNAS Senior Advisor Ret. Lieutenant General David W. Barno and CNAS Deputy Director of Studies Nora Bensahel.

But can CNAS, which has tremendous influence in the Obama administration, divorce itself from its defense industry funders who have a stake in the status of Afghanistan while providing content to Time?

Did Time ask these questions? Think Tanked has reached out to Time for comment, which will be added should it respond.

Future topics for Command Post will include weapon system choices, cyber warfare, missile defense and soldier and veteran care. It will be available at both the CNAS Web site and Time’s Swampland blog.

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He freelances and hosts a podcast at governmentality.net and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.

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