Bush Administration’s Press Manipulation More Widespread than Previously Thought
The Department of the Interior (DOI) has been producing and releasing the same kind of misleading video news releases that have already generated controversy at other federal agencies. Responding to a Freedom of Information request from environmental groups Friends of the Earth and Bluewater Network, DOI provided several prepackaged video news releases that fail to disclose to TV viewers that they are government products.
“The American people deserve to know when their tax dollars are being used to create government propaganda that they are unknowingly watching on TV,” said Korey Hartwich, policy analyst at Friends of the Earth. “The GAO has already said that the government should not be producing this kind of propaganda. It’s time for the Bush administration to put a stop to it, in every department of government.”
Two releases contained no identifying information at all on the video footage itself:
* A release on producing methane hydrates from the ocean has no audio or video ID of DOI at the beginning of the footage, and ends with the audio, “In Tampa, Pam Forrester reporting.”
* A release on West Nile Virus also had no audio or video ID of DOI at the beginning of the footage, ending with the audio sign-off, “This is Porter Versfelt reporting.”
“The Bush administration’s continued and wide spread use of mock news reports makes it nearly impossible for the average citizen to participate meaningfully in their government,” said Sean Smith, Bluewater Network’s public lands director. “Moreover, this media manipulation has a corrosive effect on the public’s faith in TV reporting and may cause reasonable people to question the source and truthfulness of any story that is favorable to the Bush agenda.”
A third release, also on West Nile Virus, had no audio or video ID of DOI at the beginning of the footage. This release did have an audio ID on sign-off, “For the CDC and USGS this is Pam Forrester.”
“These releases are not just ‘the facts,’ said Hartwich. “They’re ‘the facts’ as interpreted by and chosen by whatever government officials were involved in producing these releases. The issue here is one of transparency: to function as fully-informed democratic decision-makers, we must know who prepared ‘the facts’ we’re looking at.”
Watch the Videos:
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In this video, a fake reporter, Pam Forrester, provides uncritical praise for methane hydrate exploration in the ocean.
And in this video, another fake reporter covers the USGS's program against West Nile Virus.