blogenlust
2.19.2005

It's Only Propaganda If You Get Caught


In North Korea they call it state-run media. Here we call it "pre-packaged television programs":
Washington -- The comptroller-general has issued a blanket warning that reminds federal agencies they may not produce "newscasts" promoting administration policies without clearly stating that the government itself is the source. Twice in the last two years, agencies of the federal government have been caught distributing prepackaged television programs that used paid spokesmen acting as newscasters and, in violation of federal law, failed to disclose the Bush administration's role in developing and financing them. Those were not isolated incidents, David Walker, the comptroller-general, said in a letter dated Thursday that put all agency heads on notice about the practice. In fact, it has become increasingly common for federal agencies to adopt the public relations tactic of producing "video news releases" that look indistinguishable from authentic newscasts and are sometimes picked up by local news programs. It is illegal for the government to produce or distribute such publicity material domestically without disclosing its own role.
Of course, it isn't just federal agencies producing "video news releases" that is the problem. The problem is that people like Armstrong Williams and Jim-Jeff Gannon-Guckert are paid mouthpieces for this Administration's policies, all the while maintaining the cover of objectivity (no matter how flimsy of a cover that may be, especially in the case of JimJeff).