GAO: Propaganda by Bush Determined Wrong

Testimony Before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
U.S. Senate United States Government Accountability Office.
GAO.Thursday, May 12, 2005.

Unattributed Prepackaged News Stories Violate Publicity or Propaganda Prohibition.
Statement of Susan A. Poling, Managing Associate General Counsel, Office of General Counsel,GAO-05-643T

A pdf version is here.

The GAO examined three VNR packages that HHS made available to local news organizations. The VNRs consisted of three videotapes with corresponding, printed scripts; two of the videotapes were in English, and one was in Spanish. The B-roll footage on each of the English videotapes was exactly the same and contained footage of President Bush, in the presence of Members of Congress and others, signing the Medicare prescription drug legislation into law, and a series of clips of seniors engaged in various leisure and health-related activities, including consulting with a pharmacist and being screened for blood pressure. The English videotapes also included clips of former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and Leslie Norwalk, Deputy Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), making statements regarding changes to Medicare. The Spanish videotape includes clips of statements by Dr. Cristina Beato of CMS, instead of Thompson and Norwalk. [p.2]

HHS (Health and Human
Services) and the Office of National
Drug Control Policy(ONDCP) both commissioned and distributed prepackaged news stories and introductory scripts about their activities that were designed to be indistinguishable from news stories produced by private news broadcasters. In neither case did the agency include any statement or other indication in its news stories that disclosed to the television viewing audience (the target of the purported news stories) that the agency wrote and produced those news stories. In other words, television-viewing audiences did not know that stories they watched on television news programs about the government were, in fact, prepared by the government. We therefore concluded that those prepackaged news stories violated the publicity or propaganda prohibition. [7]

A pdf version is here.