Silver Chips Online
Administration's propaganda crosses the line
Where's the accountability?
By Jeremy Goodman, Page Editor
April 7, 2005
The Bush administration has decided to reject the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) opinion that government-produced news stories constitute illegal and unethical propaganda. The videos in question look like real news stories and are distributed to local news stations across the country and run without any disclaimer that they are produced by the government.
While the Department of Justice technically decides what is legal for the executive branch, the rejection of the GAO's ruling is part of a continuing trend by this administration to ignore input from other governmental sources. When former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Shalikashvili advised that more troops would be needed for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Bush ignored him. When Colin Powell urged Bush to let the UN inspectors finish, he was not heeded. And, as it turns out, the experts were right after all.
This administration also has a pattern of trying to eclipse the legislature. By keeping Congress in the dark about the military's Special Access Program, the administration paved the way to Abu Ghraib. And, although Republicans control Congress, it is the President who ends up formulating policy decisions, many of which, such as even more tax cuts and his proposed Social Security plan, have been too much for Congress to stomach. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's rulings have always been on the side of greater executive power, showing either disrespect or distrust for Congress.
The Bush administration has repeatedly shown its eagerness to capitalize on the weaknesses of American media. The administration has taken advantage of the sound-bite like no administration before, from Bush's landing on an aircraft carrier to serving troops Thanksgiving turkey. The administration has used fear and muddled speech to convince two-thirds of the country that Saddam Hussein was behind al Qaeda and 9/11 without ever actually saying it. Finally, media consolidation has left local news agencies too understaffed to have reporters covering every story, and they turn to the administration's propaganda tapes.
Coming after the revelation that education commentator Armstrong Williams had been paid by the Department of Education to endorse the No Child Left Behind Act and previous chastisement by GAO over Medicare and anti-drug advertisements, this new wave of propaganda shows that the administration is not above using public money to push political policies. But rather than admit any wrongdoing, the administration has defended its power to propagandize. After all, the decision is up to them -- lucky for them, unlucky for us.