Monday, May 09, 2005

Senate Hearing Thursday to Discuss Propaganda Disclosure Act

The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss the proposed Truth in Broadcasting Act -- legislation that would require the Bush administration to disclose itself as the source of propaganda, such as "video news releases" (VNRs) and other prepackaged news stories.

The legislation, authored by Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and John Kerry (D-MA) would establish permanent federal law that government VNRs and other prepackaged news would include a disclaimer that would run continuously throughout the piece

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has ruled that the administration's use of "prepackaged news stories" was illegal "covert propaganda" because the government's role was not disclosed to viewers. But on March 11, two administration officials -- Joshua B. Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Steven G. Bradbury, principal deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department -- said in memos that it was ok for federal agencies to feed TV stations prepackaged news stories that do not disclose the government's role .

President Bush has offered three different opinions on the administration's use of propaganda, most recently suggesting that rather than the government disclosing itself as the author of propaganda, "it's incumbent upon people who use them to say, this news clip was produced by the federal government."

"Our government should not be in the business of fooling the public with fake news stories," Lautenberg said in a statement last week. "If President Bush wants to promote his views, he can do that, but he should not hide behind fake reporters to get his message out. The President already has the 'Bully Pulpit' -- he shouldn't need to use puppets pretending to be reporters."

The committee hearing can be watched via webcast.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like an idea even I can get behind.


7:44 PM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

"Sounds like an idea even I can get behind."

-- Me, too, but let's remember that pre-packaged news is a practice that began under the Clinton administration. Funny, I don't recall reading about it at that time.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous alias: "cutiepie" johnson said...

Actually, JABBS has gone over this. One of the story links gets to the background info, I think.

VNRs started under the Reagan administration, not the Clinton administration. And, as JABBS pointed out, the Clinton administration was never charged by the GAO with misusing VNRs -- such as the charge against the Bush administration that it does not clearly highlight that it is the producer of the VNRs.

4:00 PM  
Blogger David Drake said...

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6:08 PM  

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