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Buying of News by Bush's Aides Is Ruled Illegal
By Robert Pear
The New York Times
Saturday 01 October 2005
Washington - Federal auditors said on Friday that the Bush administration violated the law by buying favorable news coverage of President Bush's education policies, by making payments to the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and by hiring a public relations company to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party.
In a blistering report, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said the administration had disseminated "covert propaganda" in the United States, in violation of a statutory ban.
The contract with Mr. Williams and the general contours of the public relations campaign had been known for months. The report Friday provided the first definitive ruling on the legality of the activities....
In March, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel said that federal agencies did not have to acknowledge their role in producing television news segments if they were factual. The inspector general of the Education Department recently reiterated that position.
But the accountability office said on Friday: "The failure of an agency to identify itself as the source of a prepackaged news story misleads the viewing public by encouraging the audience to believe that the broadcasting news organization developed the information. The prepackaged news stories are purposefully designed to be indistinguishable from news segments broadcast to the public. When the television viewing public does not know that the stories they watched on television news programs about the government were in fact prepared by the government, the stories are, in this sense, no longer purely factual. The essential fact of attribution is missing."
Congress tried to clarify the ban on "covert propaganda" in a bill signed by Mr. Bush in May. The law says that no federal money may be used to produce or distribute a news story unless the government's role is openly acknowledged.
Originally posted by CyberSEAL
Even the Downing Street Memo has been discussed in the mainstream media now in the United States and our population of sheep (no offense to actual sheep) still doesn't "get it". Bush could go on live TV wearing a devil costume with fire raging behind him and admit he's an evil bastard and people would still vote for him, and attend these pro-war rallies. I'm ashamed of the morons living in my country.