Monday, July 18, 2005

More Paid Propagandists? EPA To Pay $5 Million-Plus To Hawk Bush Programs

Don't doubt that the Bush Adminstration believes in propaganda.

In spite of embarrassing revelations that it paid columnists and pundits , released multiple undocumented video news releases (complete with public relations staff posing as reporters and/or "man on the street" interviewees) and showed favoritism to a Texas GOP staffer posing as a member of the White House press corps, the administration continues to look for ways to trick the American people into accepting its policies and programs.

And now comes word that the research office of the Environmental Protection Agency is seeking outside public relations consultants, to be paid more than $5 million over five years, for a handful of jobs, including ghostwriting articles "for publication in scholarly journals and magazines."

The strategy, reported in the July 18 issue of the New York Times, was laid out in a May 26 exploratory proposal notice and further defined in two recently awarded public relations contracts totaling $150,000, includes writing and placing "good stories" about the EPA's research office in consumer and trade publications.

***

JDG Communications of Falls Church, Va., won both awarded contracts. The first, for roughly $86,000 to show whether public relations improves awareness and the reputation of EPA programs.

The other, for roughly $66,000, will have JDG develop a strategy "to support a new unit that will be identifying feature story ideas, creating slant, identifying consumer magazines to target and polishing the final article."

That money is in addition to the $5 million contract, which has yet to be awarded.

***

Donald Kennedy, the editor of Science magazine and a former head of the Food and Drug Administration, told the Times that he found the idea of public relations firms ghostwriting for government scientists "appalling."

"If we knew that it had been written by someone who was not a scientist and submitted as though it were the work of a scientist, we wouldn't take it," Kennedy said. "But it's conceivable that we wouldn't know, if it was carefully constructed."

***

Is there any doubt that President Bush was lying when at a January press conference, he said of the use of propaganda: "There needs to be a nice independent relationship between the White House and the press, the administration and the press. Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet."

Want to know what the Bush policy really is? It's essentially "Shoot the messenger."

As Bush said during a Q&A session following an April 14 speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors: "(I)it's incumbent upon people who use them to say, this news clip was produced by the federal government."

***

In truth, the Bush Administration is only taking a page from industry (surprise, surprise), which has been putting public relations polish on scientific work for years.

"We had seen it coming in the pharmaceutical industry and were sort of wary about it," Kennedy, of Science, told the Times. "The idea that a government agency would feel the necessity to do this is doubly troubling."

3 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

One would hope that propaganda would bother the average citizen, but I doubt many of the folks who support Bush really care whether its Novak, Hume, Limbaugh, or some other paid government mouthpiece reading the RNC talking points to them. But I might be a tad cynical.

On the other hand they might very well be saying to themselves: fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again.

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From PR Watch:

"(T)he non-profit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has asked the agency's Inspector General to investigate the request for proposals. PEER questions the 'appropriateness of using funds for image enhancement that would otherwise be available for public health and environmental research,' citing current laws that prohibit the use of tax dollars 'for publicity or propaganda purposes.'"

10:20 PM  
Anonymous aerojad said...

The "how low can you go!?" game continues :(

10:33 PM  

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