This weekend MSNBC cited a NY Times article reported the Pentagon groomed paid TV military analysts as a means to "shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks." Paid TV analysts were former senior officers who received private briefings, trips and access to classified intelligence meant to influence their comments. Says the NY Times:
"Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its controlover access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse"
On the note of reporting favorably towards the administration. Why wouldn't we? If what is told is the truth, then there shouldn't be any issue. If you could show me an incident where an analyst put forward information that was favorable to the military/administration and untrue, I think there would be a huge problem. Do no think for a second the democrat or republican subject matter experts you watch would be around long if they berated their parties respective candidates.
As per the conflicts of interests regarding military contracts: you're hiring retired general officers. What did you expect? Everyone of these guys gets embedded with one military industrial contractor or another after retirement. I think you would be hard challenged to find a well-connected retired flag officer without ties to any military contractors. It's the nature of the beast. These individuals still remain the best source of truth when representing the military.
Bottom line: It's in the best interest of the military and the U.S. public to continue to use 'groomed' analysts.