This story appeared yesterday in the U.K.'s Independent and is very disturbing:
Federal authorities are actively investigating dozens of American television stations for broadcasting items produced by the Bush administration and major corporations, and passing them off as normal news. Some of the fake news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted the companies' products.
Investigators from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are seeking information about stations across the country after a report produced by a campaign group detailed the extraordinary extent of the use of such items.
The report, by the non-profit group Centre for Media and Democracy, found that over a 10-month period at least 77 television stations were making use of the faux news broadcasts, known as Video News Releases (VNRs). Not one told viewers who had produced the items.
"We know we only had partial access to these VNRs and yet we found 77 stations using them," said Diana Farsetta, one of the group's researchers. "I would say it's pretty extraordinary. The picture we found was much worse than we expected going into the investigation in terms of just how widely these get played and how frequently these pre-packaged segments are put on the air."
If you read this and removed all the identifying information of it being the United States then you would think it was coming from some place like Cuba, China or Iran. Unfortunately it is coming from the United States and is the purest form of government propaganda.
A requirement for television and radio stations to hold licenses to operate on public airwaves is that they do public service announcements. Reporting the news has always been considered one of these type of announcements but when the government is twisting what is reported then it no longer is. This is also a grave danger to our first amendment.