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March 17, 2005
A small taste:
The Left has taken over academe. We want it back.
New in the shop.
Why oh why...
...do these tenured radical professors hate American values?
I ask you.
Fight fake news
From the Washington Post:
WHAT DOES Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" have in common with the Bush administration? They're both unabashed about putting out fake news. The Bush administration's version consists of video news releases -- government-produced, government-funded spots packaged to look and sound like regular television reports, complete with fake news reporters signing off from Washington. These are intended to be, and often are, aired by local television stations without any indication that the government is behind them. The Government Accountability Office found this kind of phony news to be impermissible "covert propaganda." It warned the government last month that such prepackaged news stories must be accompanied by a "clear disclosure to the television viewing audience" of the government's involvement. The Bush administration is now instructing its officials to ignore the GAO -- which is where (in addition to the question of comedic content) the administration and Mr. Stewart diverge. He wants you to know his news is phony.
So, what can you do? Glad you asked:
The Center for Media and Democracy is working with Free Press to gather a quarter million signatures on our petition mobilizing the American public to fight fake news and government propaganda. On Sunday, the New York Times reported that at least 20 federal agencies have made and distributed pre-packaged, ready-to-serve television news segments to promote President Bush's policies and initiatives. Congress' Government Accountability Office determined that these "video news releases" were illegal "covert propaganda" and told federal agencies to stop. But last Friday, the White House ordered all agencies to disregard Congress' directive. The Bush administration is using hundreds of millions of your tax dollars to manipulate public opinion. Here's how to stop them.
What the hell
I got pissed off and pulled the link to my wish list a couple of weeks ago after Amazon was appallingly unhelpful in resolving a mixup (a reader accidentally sent the purchased items to herself, rather than to my address). But you know the old saw about cutting off your nose to spite your face. So, I've calmed down, and it's back. (Just read this first.) What the hell--I've got a birthday coming up. (And how it is possible that I am about to turn 44 is an utter mystery to me--but then, I've found that every birthday for the past ten years or so has left me with a similar feeling of bafflement).
March 16, 2005
Why do the American people hate America?
(That little riff just never gets old, does it?)
The ever-shifting rationale for the war usually goes something like this: Why can't liberals admit that X completely and utterly justifies the cost of this war in lives and resources with absolutely no room for ambiguity?...with "X"=the latest hint of vaguely positive news, i.e., big statue pulled down, elections held without too many people being killed, etc.
Well, it looks like the American public takes a much more nuanced view of these things than the average warblugger.
Two years after President Bush led the country to war in Iraq, Americans appear to be of two minds about the situation in the Middle East: A majority say they believe the Iraqis are better off today than they were before the conflict began -- but they also say the war was not worth fighting in the first place, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Of course, there's still plenty here to make your head hurt:
In the new poll, 56 percent said they think Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the start of the war and 6 in 10 said they believe Iraq provided direct support to the al Qaeda terrorist network, which struck the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Also, 55 percent of Americans said the administration told people what it believed to be true, while 43 percent believe the administration deliberately misled the country.
Retrospective judgments of Bush's decision making are far more negative that they were two years ago as events were unfolding. For the first time in a Post-ABC poll, a majority (51 percent) called the war in Iraq a mistake. On the day Baghdad fell in April 2003, just 16 percent called the war a mistake and 81 percent said it was the right thing to do.
More wacky fraternity hijinx
Isn't that how Rush Limbaugh described Abu Ghraib?
At least 26 prisoners have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002 in what Army and Navy investigators have concluded or suspect were acts of criminal homicide, according to military officials.
March 15, 2005
But of course
The Bush administration, rejecting an opinion from the Government Accountability Office, said last week that it is legal for federal agencies to feed TV stations prepackaged news stories that do not disclose the government's role in producing them.
Story. (Washington Post--registration required.)
Another elitist Republican
(A)ccording to the subscription-only Congress Daily, during a congressional hearing on child care funding in connection with the endless effort to reauthorize the 1996 welfare reform law, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) said this: "The issue of child care is a Washington-based issue. It is not an issue out in the states."
Tell it to working Americans, Senator.
March 14, 2005
Zachary Roth, who reported on the "Karen Ryan" video news releases, emails to explain how it works:
Here's what happens: a government agency (say, HHS) decides it wants to promote the Medicare drug legislation or whatever. It hires a PR company to handle all aspects of this, including making a VNR. That PR company (I think it was Ketchum, in the case of the Medicare legislation) hires another company (Karen Ryan's company) to make the thing. Then it hires another company (often a company called Medialink) to distribute the VNR. That company distributes the VNR by paying for transmission time on various satellite news feeds, run by CNN, Fox, CBS, AP or whoever. Local stations also pay the owners of the news feeds to gain access to the stories.
From the mailbag
Thanks for the link to the NYT atricle on the Bush administration's propaganda machine.
There really are a lot of unanswered questions here. Primary among them being, what are these news outlets thinking? I know that corporate puff pieces posing as news segments have been picked up by cash-strapped stations for years as an easy way to fill out the time--I'd guess by news managers who think, hey, what's the harm in a fun little piece this wacky new trend and/or product? Don't get me wrong, I find that hugely objectionable--I'm pretty sure I remember doing a cartoon or two about it at some point during the nineties--but running government propaganda disguised as news takes it to an entirely different level of deceit. And if the networks really are complicit in this--and kudos to the sharp-eyed reader who caught the reference above--that's a hell of a lot worse than Dan Rather getting scammed by someone cough cough Karl Rove cough cough on that memogate silliness.
Somebody at some level in the broadcast news industry owes us an explanation. Because the government can churn these things out until they're blue in the face, but if newscasters don't run them, then they are relegated to the status of trees falling in an empty forest.
March 13, 2005
That good old liberal media
Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production.
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