The following article relates to US media. However, to a certian degree our local news corporations and government (MeNZB) use the same tactics. [Admin]
Ghosts in the Media Machine
“State-run media” is a phrase normally reserved for regimes such as North Korea that manipulate and censor all public information. Media in the United States were thought to be immune to such autocratic control, but recent maneuvers by the Bush administration should make Americans wonder how free our press actually is.
Earlier this year, several “journalists” were exposed as propagandists on the White House payroll. We then learned that broadcasters routinely air government-funded video news releases without disclosing their source; the White House has set aside a quarter billion taxpayer dollars to hire public relations firms and infiltrate our news system with fake news.
Free Press and the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) are leading a campaign to reveal the extent to which government propaganda has compromised media newscasts and press lawmakers to enforce laws banning the covert distribution of fake news.
2005 has been a banner year for propaganda. In early January, the $240,000 Armstrong Williams took from the Department of Education headlined national news. Covertly paying journalists to flack for government policies is not only outrageous, it’s illegal. The Williams case sparked a public outcry, compelling more than 40,000 people to join Free Press and demand that the FCC launch a probe. Other journalists have since admitted being on the take.
In March 2005, the New York Times ran a front page article documenting widespread government efforts to create official video news releases that are cloaked as real news and broadcast to millions of unsuspecting Americans. At least 20 federal agencies have used this tactic distributing hundreds of government-produced news segments via local TV outlets. Learn more about propaganda in US media.
A Sept. 30 report by the Government Accountability Office found the White House violated federal law by buying favorable news coverage in advance of the 2004 elections. This is the fourth time the GAO has uncovered the White House’s illegal use of taxpayer money to produce “covert propaganda.”
These violations may just form the tip of the iceberg. The administration has more than doubled its public relations budget, tapping a quarter billion in taxpayer dollars since Bush came into office. And while the report is damning, the GAO doesn’t have enforcement powers to reveal the full extent of the abuse.
Some in Washington have taken up the call for further action. But they have yet to raise this issue beyond a probe into a few bad actors — such as Williams — to finger the real source of the problem. In October, legislation introduced by Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and John Kerry (D-MA) passed in committee. If made into law the “Prepackaged News Story Announcement Act of 2005” would ensure that all official video news releases contain announcements to inform viewers that they are a product of the government. Learn more about actions you can take to force the government to further disclose propaganda abuses and enforce the law:
Breaking Washington’s Silence
Minority calls for a propaganda probe have sounded a hollow echo through the Justice Department. Washington remains under the thrall of the majority Republican Party, which would rather ignore this simmering scandal than demand that justice be served.
GAO and the Justice Department, the administration’s controlling legal authority, have not seen eye to eye on covert propaganda in the past, specifically on the issue of unidentified packaged video news releases. GAO says VNRs are illegal; Justice says the releases are not, so long as they are fact-based. Worseover, Alberto Gonzalez’s Justice Department appears unwilling to take the next step: a criminal investigation into the administration’s use of millions of taxpayer dollars to push fake news upon Americans.
The official silence speaks volumes. Without popular dissent, an emboldened White House will continue to throw up obstacles to full disclosure. It is now up to the public to do what our elected officials are unwilling or unable to: pressure our government to enforce the law and stop propaganda crimes.