Saturday, March 05, 2005

Schwarzenegger Follows Bush Admin. Lead; Paid Reporters For Story

Schwarzenegger takes a cue from the federal government's propaganda playbook:
Using taxpayer money, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration has sent television stations statewide a mock news story extolling a proposal that would benefit political boosters in the business community by ending mandatory lunch breaks for many hourly workers.

The tape looks like a news report and is narrated by a former television reporter who now works for the state. But unlike an actual news report, it does not provide views critical of the proposed changes. Democrats have denounced it as propaganda. Snippets aired on as many as 18 stations earlier this month, the administration said.
Sound familiar?
May 20—When the Bush administration distributed mock news videos to promote its Medicare prescription drug law, it violated federal restrictions against using taxpayer money for propaganda, according to a May 19 report from the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO).

After the prescription drug bill passed last fall, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) distributed video “news releases” to television stations around the country praising the drug program. In the videos, actors portray reporters. The GAO report found because viewers couldn’t tell the message came from the government, the video news releases violated restrictions against using federal funds for publicity or propaganda.

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