While the UK Independent caught and reported this story yesterday, oddly enough I cannot find a single mainstream American news outlet covering the following report by the Center for Media and Democracy. The report’s name:
In this report, available in executive summary or full 144-page pdf format, the Center for Media and Democracy releases the results of their project to track the use of 36 video news releases (VNRs) created by the Bush administration or corporate America. Center researchers found that just this small set of VNRs had been shown to Americans on the air by 77 television stations across the nation, in markets accounting for a full half of the American viewing public. Click here for a map of offending television news stations, and click here for a full list. At none of these 77 television stations did news staff identify the source of the VNRs. Instead, they were seamlessly integrated into the seemingly “independent” news programs, making it appear that the fake news and fictional endorsements being presented were both actual and independent of the government and industry that produced them. Three stations even had their anchors read scripts, verbatim, prepared by government and corporate interests for them.
Amy Goodman aired a segment on her radio show, Democracy Now!, in which she played a segment of one VNR released by the State Department and aired by multiple “independent” news shows around the country without an acknowledgement that the VNR was government-sponsored propaganda. Here’s just one snippet:
IRAQI AMERICAN 1: We love the United States! We love America! They help us!
IRAQI AMERICAN 2: Yes!
NARRATOR: In this Kansas City cafe, Iraqi Americans watch the historic events on TV.
IRAQI AMERICAN 3: Iâ€™m very, very happy. I said, thank you, Bush. Thank you, U.S.A. I love Bush, I love U.S.A., because they do that for Iraqi peopleâ€™s freedom.
You’ve never been able to trust a corporation’s own stories about itself.
But now you can’t trust the Bush administration to tell the truth about its activities.
Now you can’t trust the Congress to investigate government shenanigans.
And now you can’t trust that the “independent” news media’s take on an issue hasn’t already been bought.
Well, pardon me, but what can you trust in any more? What can you believe is real and true? Over two hundred years ago, Thomas Jefferson wrote that
“Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories….
Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government…. Whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, the people, if well informed, may be relied on to set them to rights.”
(Sources: Notes on Virginia, 1782 and letter to Richard Price, 1789)
But what if the people are no longer well-informed? What if they are ill-informed? And what if the government and the powerful moneyed interests who serve to keep the people’s power in check are to blame? What then? What now?