Bush team scolded for disguised TV report

Bush team scolded for disguised TV report

Boston Globe | January 7 2005

FLASHBACK: LA Times: Bush administration’s fake ‘news reports’ on Medicare illegal

WASHINGTON — Shortly before last year's Super Bowl, local news stations across the country aired a story by Mike Morris describing plans for a new White House ad campaign on the dangers of drug abuse.

What viewers did not know was that Morris is not a journalist and his ''report" was produced by the government, actions which constituted illegal ''covert propaganda," according to an investigation by the Government Accountability Office.

In the second ruling of its kind, the investigative arm of Congress this week scolded the Bush administration for distributing phony prepackaged news reports that include a ''suggested live intro" for anchors to read, interviews with Washington officials, and a closing that mimics a typical broadcast news sign-off.

Although television stations knew the materials were produced by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, there was nothing in the two-minute, prepackaged reports that would indicate to viewers that they came from the government or that Morris, a former journalist, was working under contract for the government.

''You think you are getting a news story but what you are getting is a paid announcement," said Susan Poling, managing associate general counsel at the Government Accountability Office. ''What is objectionable about these is the fact the viewer has no idea their tax dollars are being used to write and produce this video segment."

In May, the Government Accountability Office concluded that the Department of Health and Human Services violated two federal laws with similar fake news reports touting the administration's new Medicare drug benefit. When that opinion was released, officials at the drug control office decided to stop the practice, spokesman Thomas Riley said.

''Our lawyers disagree with the GAO interpretation," he said. Nevertheless, if the video releases were going to be ''controversial or create an appearance of a problem," the agency decided it was not worth pursuing, he said.

The prepackaged news pieces represent a fraction of the antidrug messages distributed by the office, Riley said.

Production and distribution of the video news releases cost about $155,000.

Riley said broadcast stations were fully aware they were receiving materials akin to printed press releases that producers could ''slice and dice it however they want."

At least 300 news shows used some portion of the prepackaged news reports, though it was impossible to determine how many aired the full story or just portions such as ''sound bites," Riley said.

If the videos had been identified as coming from the federal agency, that would have been legal, Poling said. But the television package looks like an authentic piece of independent journalism.

HERE ARE SOME LINKS TO FOLLOW UP ON MORE FAKE NEWS

Government Use Of Fake News

Bush team scolded for disguised TV report

LA Times Bush administration’s fake ‘news reports’ on Medicare illegal

Screened Audiences, Fake News Promote Bush Agenda

Embedded with Bush fake news reports and phony journalism

Senate Passes Measure to Ban 'Fake News'

Bush administration propaganda efforts come under increased scrutiny

Bush Defends Packaged News Stories from Government

White House Defends Video News Releases

Bush Shows No Remorse for Fake Newscasts

Bush continues to manipulate opinions

Administration, Critics Debate Value of Video News Releases

White House Said to Impede Paid-For Journalists Probe

Propaganda of The Police State -Bush Orders an End to Hiring Columnists

Education Dept. paid commentator to promote law

Commentator Paid By Bush Admin Admits Error

Subverting the press with propaganda on the rise

Drug Control Office Faulted For Issuing Fake News Tapes

Gannon story fits into a growing pattern of White House propaganda

Gannon Is he Johnny Gosch?

Homeland Security 'We're still looking for Gannon credentialing'

All the News That's Fit to Fake

The Fight Against Fake News

Oh, The Propaganda!

Pot, Kettle, Black State Department Tells Us How to Identify Misinformation

John McCain 'Fake News' a Fake Scandal

The fake-news team strikes again

Did the BBC Broadcast Fake News Reports?

Schwarzenegger Latest To Fake News Stories

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