Group Calls for Investigation of Bush's Fake News

Bump and Update: Say hello to Stop Fake News, brought to you by Start Change, the same folks who began Stop Sinclair. They are seeking an FCC investigation into President Bush's use of fake news. Turns out, there are at least two laws or regulations that may have been violated:

  • 47 U.S.C. 317, the Radio Act, prohibits broadcast stations from airing government-produced programming without proper disclosure.
  • 31 U.S.C. 1341, Pub. L. No. 108-199, prohibits the use of public funds for creating and distributing partisan propaganda.

Join their sign-on letter here.

Original Post:

The New York Times today devotes eight internet pages to Bush's fake news:

"Thank you, Bush. Thank you, U.S.A.," a jubilant Iraqi-American told a camera crew in Kansas City for a segment about reaction to the fall of Baghdad. A second report told of "another success" in the Bush administration's "drive to strengthen aviation security"; the reporter called it "one of the most remarkable campaigns in aviation history." A third segment, broadcast in January, described the administration's determination to open markets for American farmers.

To a viewer, each report looked like any other 90-second segment on the local news. In fact, the federal government produced all three. Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production.

Shouldn't the FCC levy fines for this sort of fraud?

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    The FCC doesn't really have jurisdiction here, but the federal courts do. Of the propaganda that has come out of the Bush white house in the last four years, so far four cases have been deemed violations by the GAO of the covert propaganda clause of the budget appropriations act, which prohibit federal agencies under the control of the Executive from using appropriations dollars to fund propaganda designed to influence the Congress. The last such determination from the GAO happened in the 1980s during Iran-contra. In other words, of the violations made by the past four presidents, Bush has committed 80% of them, and he's only been in office for 4 years, and the GAO hasn't yet made determinations in most of the cases it has been asked to consider--so it may be much worse.

    This conspiracy in the news was in effect on 911, when tv stations all over the country played a tape of supposed 'Palestinians' celebrating and chanting 'anti-American' slogans at the news of 911. LIES. Bloody lies, and bloody people who told them. That footage was debunked. It was from a Jordanian wedding party long before. It was file footage. It was presented as live, but it was out of a can. I know from seeing this film many times on 911 here in Los Angeles, on what I later discovered was now a Fox channel, that the 'anti-American' phrase in this canned fotage was 'Allahu Akbar,' the most common statement of jubilation at any wedding anywhere in Islam. 'God is Great,' otherwise known as 'Hallelujah.'

    Re: Group Calls for Investigation of Bush's Fake N (none / 0) (#3)
    by bad Jim on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 12:58:59 AM EST
    Great comment, Paul, but I think that "hallelujah" is a lot older than Islam. The word "ululation" describes the sound. I can't find my Aeschylus, but IIRC in the Oresteia he transcribed it as "eleuleuleuleu". Sort of like yodeling. I once had a girlfriend who got into belly-dancing. Ululating was just one of the things she learned. It's ancient.

    Re: Group Calls for Investigation of Bush's Fake N (none / 0) (#4)
    by bad Jim on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 01:02:58 AM EST
    The more the administration pulls this kind of crap, the better Jon Stewart looks. At least his fake news is an honest take on events.

    PIL - Well, I see you are spewing and ranting already. Tell you what. How about a link showing what you claim? I mean you may be right, and I am here to be convinced. Show me dude. Show me some links that prove your claims about the 9/11 tapes. And you didn't know it was a Fox Channel? Come on. How can anyone watch any TV channel for more than two minutes and not get hit with a promo and screen logo? BTW - Doesn't the phrase translate into "God is Great!" It may be used a wedding parties, but we KNOW it is used when the terrorists are having fun sawing off some poor person's head. Say, did you read of the 41 people found dead the other day in a building? Many of them women and children, with their heads chopped off. Are you defending these people who do these attacks? Could we have a few thousands words and a rant or two against them? et al - During the 50's and 60's CBS made some updated "Victory and Sea" films, narrated by Walter Cronkite, who used his most trusted man in America position to show us hunting for Soviet submarines. Every inch of film was DOD provided and edited to insure no secret gear or tactics were shown.

    Re: Group Calls for Investigation of Bush's Fake N (none / 0) (#6)
    by Emily on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 06:32:30 AM EST
    Geez. This is why I'm changing careers... I mean, someone's got to take control!

    Re: Group Calls for Investigation of Bush's Fake N (none / 0) (#7)
    by Che's Lounge on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 07:28:02 AM EST
    Jim, You're sounding more inane than usual today. How about a link showing what you claim? How many times does this have to be explained to you? It's WAY old news. And yes, the terrists use it too. We're all intelligent people with ears and eyes and know what was said. Don't you get tired of repeating the same old circular arguements? Go google for a few days and come back with some new material. During the 50's and 60's CBS made some updated "Victory and Sea" films, narrated by Walter Cronkite, who used his most trusted man in America position to show us hunting for Soviet submarines. Every inch of film was DOD provided and edited to insure no secret gear or tactics were shown That was a DOCUMENTARY. We in the reality based community are referring to the NEWS. Please don't ask me to link you to the difference.

    Dear Dark Avenger, who wrote: "the usual 'Thanks to the Department of Defense, etc.' which made it clear that they were produced with the help of the goverment" Butbutbutbutbut how could they technically manage to do such a thing? After all, there is no way to, let's say, run a banner across the bottom of the television screen showing words on it, like -- this piece was given to us to run by the Bush administration and we are running it unedited as they ordered -- over and over again while the propaganda runs. It's a technology issue. Not an ethical issue. We know this because the issue is already covered in the applicable code of ethics which restrains Journalists from stuff like running propaganda and making stuff up outright: "Clearly disclose the origin of information and label all material provided by outsiders." Why, they're even "close to proposing a stricter rule," according to the Timely Journalistic Reporting in the New York "All The News Of Yesteryear" Times. So it's handled. Except for the tiny problem of "most" news directors being too simple-minded to figure out how so much propaganda -- yes, that's what they call it when they are Being Ethical -- makes it onto the air in spite of their Good Intentions. They can't find the archive tapes. Oops. They forget to return phone calls about it. Oops. They plead ignorance. That last, at least, doesn't strain credibility. No story here. Nothing to see. Just move along now, folks.

    we live in a world of propaganda and its as normal as bush and his lies. stop cultural and political recomnquista of your home-land, if you have a home-land?

    Re: Group Calls for Investigation of Bush's Fake N (none / 0) (#12)
    by john horse on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 11:16:52 AM EST
    Here's an idea for a story. We have a corrupt President who decides to get people to support a war by presenting inaccurate and misleading information. They use the government to stage events to maintain support for the war, such as the pulling down of a statue for the leader we have just defeated. They produce propaganda that they run on local television station as independently produced "news" stories. They hand money under the table to local columnists. They allow partisan hacks to pose as reporters. Not all the things I mention are related to the war, but all the things I mention are related to the Bush adminstration.

    i think the f.c.c. does have something to say -- about all of this -- see mine on the topic generally, but here is some law relevant to the times story: § 508(c) Supplying of program or program matter
    . . .any person who supplies to any other person any program or program matter which is intended for broadcasting over any. . . station shall, in advance of such broadcast, disclose to such other person any information of which he has knowledge, or which has been disclosed to him, as to any money, service or other valuable consideration which any person has paid or accepted, or has agreed to pay or accept, for the inclusion of any matter as a part of such program or program matter. . .
    § 508(g) Penalties
    Any person who violates any provision of this section shall, for each such violation, be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both. . .
    [emphasis supplied -- tae.] failure to disclose WHO provided the "service" of pre-packing these "newsfeed packages" is relevant; and possibly criminal. i have also posted a summary of the times piece, here, but i find it deplorable that our tax-dollars are paying for covert propoganda like this. . . peace, -- tae, out.

    Che - That's the old "everybody knows it" story. Again. If true, there should be dozens of links. And no, it is not my job to prove PIL's point. As to disclaimers, I don't remember any. Might be, might not be.

    I believe some of you missed this line in the NYT's piece; "[t]he practice, which also occurred in the Clinton administration..." But I can understand it after all the NYT buried it. So what else is new(s).

    Jim, One quick question. If a news report is produced by the government, is it better or worse for it to state "This news report was produced by the government"? Why or why not?

    Re: Group Calls for Investigation of Bush's Fake N (none / 0) (#16)
    by chupetin on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 04:34:52 PM EST
    hanger4, why are you defending Clinton? He's not President anymore. And just because he did it does not mean that it's OK. Get a clue!

    Re: Group Calls for Investigation of Bush's Fake N (none / 0) (#17)
    by soccerdad on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 04:55:31 PM EST
    PPJ we went through before, we could show you links till hell froze over you don't care never have. You've proven over and over your dislike of Islam and Muslims

    "Posted by: Chupetin on March 13, 2005 05:34 PM hanger4, why are you defending Clinton? He's not President anymore. And just because he did it does not mean that it's OK. Get a clue!" Sorry, I forgot the left was all up in arms when Clinton was doing the same thing.


    Re: Group Calls for Investigation of Bush's Fake N (none / 0) (#20)
    by john horse on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 05:35:16 PM EST
    PPJ Instead of asking for Paul to back up his claims, why not be more critical of Bush's false claims. After all, don't you think there is something underhanded and sleazy about a government that produces "news" reports and passes them on to the public without letting the public know about that they produced them? (You have every right to question Paul's claims. Not that I think he is making it up. Its just not easy to produce a cite for something you saw on tv. Not like for books and articles. By the way, I'm still waiting for you to produce the title and page number of that book by Giap that you used to quote from.)

    cool. great bump, jeralyn. -- tae, out.

    Just so we're clear, public law 108-199 is the 2004 appropriations act. That is the law that contains the verbage that forbids the executive from using appropriations dollars to fund propaganda or pay lobbyists. The GAO has found the Bush administration in violation of this provision four times so far. The FCC does not have jurisdiction on this. 47 USC 317 applies to radio only, and is subject to the following definition: "The term “service or other valuable consideration” as used in this section shall not include any service or property furnished without charge or at a nominal charge for use on, or in connection with, a broadcast, or for use on a program which is intended for broadcasting over any radio station, unless it is so furnished in consideration for an identification in such broadcast or in such program of any person, product, service, trademark, or brand name beyond an identification which is reasonably related to the use of such service or property in such broadcast or such program. You've edited out the word "radio", which is a significant term. The GAO doesn't agree that this law has been violated, as the prepackaged news stories were videos destined for TV broadcast, however it states in its rulings that it does not claim to have the final determination, that would be left to the Attorney General. We also need to distinguish the paid shills from the prepackaged news. Those are related issues conceptually (i.e. controlling the news), but are probably totally different as a matter of law.

    we all need to create blogs for progressive views. mine is www.spartanblog.blogspot.com

    hanger4, Since you Republicans have started using Clinton as the model of morality, can we call you hypocrites now?

    Also, I like Loaded Mouth's take on it: "So, in other words, the government produces fluff pieces about government policy, offering no counter points of crtical analysis, and a bunch of people believe that this isn't propaganda. Right. In other news, people are f***ing stupid." Of course, he's wrong; Republicans know it's propaganda, but allegedly Bill Clinton (who they always look to for guidance) did the same thing, although I've yet to see any examples of this. "Whatever Clinton did, we do." Must be a Bill Maher-style "New Rule." I wonder why Bush never used this as a campaign slogan? Judging from the comments here, it goes over great with the rank-and-file; Republicans just can't stop reminding everyone that Dear Leader is now emulating Bill Clinton.

    scar - I gave you an example 40+ years old, and included not only the government, but the active cooperation of a major news network's "most believed man in America." Read this from the NYT's article: "Federal agencies are forthright with broadcasters about the origin of the news segments they distribute." So why do you, and all the others, blame Bush?

    Jim, I'm not sure I see this as a valid comparison. You mentioned "Victory and Sea" films. Am I to assume that the words "Victory and Sea" appeared at the start of this thing? Doesn't sound like a typical news report to me, which these things are designed to emulate Second: was there public division over submarine warfare? I think there's a tiny bit of difference that you... well, I'll be charitable and say you honestly overlook. Anyway, do you really believe that there's no difference between 50s-era feelgood pro-american films and a deceptive attempt to manipulate public opinion? Were there Americans who needed convincing that we had a submarine fleet or that we actually won the battle of Midway? All films are not created equal. Third, many of these sham news reports have, in the past, contained what you might call lies. Sorry, I'm just not into that. So, take out the lies, and put in a "This message brought to you by the Bush Administration" message, like every other ad produced by a corporation or politician, and I'll be fine with it. Don't know how anyone could object to that. Oh, and by the way - here's a nice litmus test. If there's the slightest chance that people might view the content of the ad differently if they know who's actually behind it, it is propaganda.

    scar - You ignored my quotation from the NYT article. Read it. And the article. If the agencies are forthwith - that's Yankee talk for plain - then it occurs to me that the broadcasters should state where the clip came from, and that is where the complaints should be made. The broadcasters. The truth is the agencies in question aren't going to build in a "crawler" at the screen's bottom because they know that the news broadcasters will probably be lazy enough to not identify the source. And, of course, them being civil servants now in service of the evil Bush Administration, there is little doubt they have been totally corrupted. As for my example, it was "Victory At Sea," and it had Uncle Walter himself and it was actual US Navy ships and aircraft. Beyond that, memory blurs after 40+ years. I can say, as the older lady who was a secretary in the TANG broohaha opined, if it was fake, it was certainly accurate.

    Re: Group Calls for Investigation of Bush's Fake N (none / 0) (#29)
    by theologicus on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 06:05:45 AM EST
    Fake news is often a way of using lies to cover up violence. We have seen quite a bit of it in the current U.S. war. The toppling of the Saddam statue was a staged event. The Pvt. Lynch story turned out to be a fraud. The "hole" in which Saddam was found may have been a set-up. The recent managed elections were a travesty. We are drowning in propaganda. The placement of paid government operatives in the media, sometimes in league with the CIA, has been a standing practice for more than 50 years. As with so many other nefarious practices (like the scandal of extraordinary rendition) the current administration has taken these troubling policies to a whole new level.

    not to quibble with michael ditto, but the regulations make broadcast television transmissions no differ- ent than radio transmissions. see 47 C.F.R. 73.682(a). it may be fair to question whether pre-packaged newsfeeds for television convey a "valuable service or other con- sideration" to the media outlet from the government agency, but i don't think it fair to suggest that television is exempt. the federal communications act predates television; the code of federal regulations brought the later-arriving broadcast of tele- vision -- "the tansmission of pictures over the radio waves" under the f.c.c.'s jurisdiction. sorry to be so pedantic, but i do think the f.c.c. has jurisdiction. p e a c e, -- tae, out.

    Sorry, forgot about this thread. No link, but here's the authority: "TV news coverage on 9/11 repeatedly show(ed) images of Palestinians rejoicing over the 9/11 attack. According to Mark Crispin Miller, a Professor of Media Studies at New York University who investigated the issue, the footage was filmed during the funeral of nine people killed the day before by Israeli authorities. He said "to show it without explaining the background, and to show it over and over again is to make propaganda for the war machine and is irresponsible.'' [AFP, 9/18/01, Australian, 9/27/01]"

    The Jordanian wedding party video was a later incident of 'anti-american celebration.'

    Gee PIL, what can I say in the face of such absolute authority? I mean, I don't know the Professor, and after what we have just seem out of CU, why should I believe him? He may have something, he may not. Is this the person? If so, along with being a professor he appears to have a very left wing blog. Matter of fact, if you google his name, you will find page after page of Bush attacks. But nothing re the subject we're on, and nothing that indicates he is a news source that I would believe. In this day and age, in such a subject matter, we have no links that actually say something? Excuse me, but I am LOL. And you have egg all over your face.

    This is a typical hypocritical hate-America antiChristian bigoted procriminal anti-peace website that promotes immorality, hate & lies. All this left wing trash is nothing but HATE-AMERICA PROPAGANDA straight from Josef Goebbel's shool of Nazi propaganda. You liberals are so full of seething irrational hatred for our heroic and one of America's best presidents, President George W. Bush that you can't see straight or think rationally. You libs are allies of Muslim terrorists too. You both think so much alike. You both hate Christians & America. Without the war in Iraq. We would have had many more 9/11's. Instead of all the dead brave & heroic men & women in Iraq we would have tens of thousands of dead Americans in America with a bankrupt economy. Wake up liberal terrorists and smell the TERRORISM & smell REALITY. You are all so delusional. I also wonder if my freedom of speach is gonna be take away by you liberal hypocrites by removing this post?

    Re: Group Calls for Investigation of Bush's Fake N (none / 0) (#36)
    by Che's Lounge on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 03:36:08 PM EST
    rockin troll!

    MM asks: ..."I also wonder if my freedom of speach is gonna be take away by you liberal hypocrites by removing this post?" No, but your medication may need to be adjusted; that brown stuff on your nose needs to be wiped off; all those library books you burned in a pile in your backyard have overdue fines on them (and they'll need to be replaced); your "typical hypocritical hate-America" propaganda and hate-speech will need to be curtailed, unless you want people to think you're a psychotic tool; and finally, you'll need to stop jerking off in front of your computer screen long enough to (at least) cover-up that yellow-streak on your back so that you can go to Iraq (to put your cowardly words into action, so to speak) and take the place of an actual true patriot who is there fighting for a worthless cause. I'm sure you won't be too embarrassed when asked to defend your cowardly hero Bush's failed foreign policy war for oil company and Halliburton profits; and then the true patriot can return home to his family, secure in the knowledge that you've taken his place as the cannon fodder you really are. thanks in advance (retard).