Petition to Stop White House Propaganda
March 15, 2005
John Stauber / Center for Media and Democracy
At least 20 federal agencies have made and distributed “fake news” releases to promote Bush-Cheney policies and initiatives. The Government Accounting Office has ruled these pre-packaged, ready-to-serve television news segments constitute illegal “covert propaganda.” The White House has ordered the agencies to disregard a Congressional directive banning covert government propaganda. The public needs to challenge this attempted end-run around democratic discourse.
(March 15, 2005) — The Sunday New York Times has a "must read" front page article on the Bush administration's widespread propagation of "fake news," video news releases funded by tax-payers, filled with political bias, and aired by TV networks and stations as news stories.
Here at the Center we've been reporting and speaking out on this particular media corruption for over a decade, but this New York Times article is the first major expose' in the mainstream press. This long NY Times piece still only reveals the tip of the iceberg, since most of each year'sthousands of fake news stories are from corporations, not government agencies.
You can read the Times story off our website at: http://www.prwatch.org/node/3362
We first described the widespread use of fake TV news VNRs — video news releases — in our 1995 book Toxic Sludge Is Good For You. We explained how more than 20 VNRs were created by the Hill and Knowlton PR firm as part of their campaign to sell the first Gulf War. Ten years ago the airing of fake news was widespread, today it is much worse.
Here at the Center we are committed to organizing with others in journalism and in the media reform movement to stop fake news. Cleary this unlabeled use of VNRs violates both FCC standards and the ethics code of broadcasters, but without public outrage and mobilization neither institution has had the inclination to act, nor will it.
For more on fake news and the decline of journalism, listen to today's Democracy Now with Amy Goodman. Science reporter Laurie Garret, a personal hero of mine, is on for the entire hour discussing the decline of journalism. I join her for the last half-hour discussing the scandal of fake news.
The entire show will be available on the Democracy Now website.
Join the Petition Campaign against Fake News
The Center for Media and Democracy is working with Free Press to gather a quarter million signatures on a 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:
• Sign our petition and help us get 250,000 people to join our call to Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and local television stations. Tell Congress and the FCC to toughen and enforce laws against "covert propaganda" and demand that broadcasters come clean with viewers about using government-produced news.
• Join others in your community to create "citizen agreements" with your local TV stations to stop fake news broadcasts. These agreements are official documents filed at the FCC that -- if broken -- can be used to deny license renewals. Free Press will connect you with others in your area working to ensure local broadcasters identify the sources behind the "news."
Unless we speak out now, the White House will continue to act with impunity -- taking advantage of understaffed and incautious local news operations to manipulate public opinion.
Please take a few moments to sign the petition and forward this message to everyone you know.
To learn more, read the in-depth report from Free Press on the systematic effort by the Bush administration to manipulate journalists and the American public: http://freepress.net/propaganda
John Stauber is the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy 520 University Avenue #227, Madison, WI 53703; (608)260-9713 Fax: 260-9714 http://www.prwatch.org and co-Author of: Banana Republicans, Weapons of Mass Deception, Trust Us, We're Experts, Mad Cow USA and Toxic Sludge Is Good For You