Lying Media Bastards

March 13, 2005

PR Nation

It is the kind of TV news coverage every president covets.

“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. The report from Kansas City was made by the State Department. The “reporter” covering airport safety was actually a public relations professional working under a false name for the Transportation Security Administration. The farming segment was done by the Agriculture Department’s office of communications.

They’re called video news releases, and we’ve seen them before. Someone with cash hires a PR firm to create some video segments that look like regular news pieces. These fake news pieces are then sent to cash-strapped TV news departments free of charge. And frequently, these news departments will air the fake news without bothering to notify the public that they’re watching fake news. Hell, according to this article, some departments actually go out of their way to hide the fact that the news is fake.

Well, I exaggerate slightly. Many of these “VNRs” are factually accurate, but they present selective facts and selective images. Their intent, obviously, is to manipulate the viewers’ beliefs and perceptions so that the original purchaser of the VNR can continue to covertly screw the viewer. I am worried less these days about the nuances of reality and more with the intent. While a “misleading statement” isn’t a “lie”, that’s the intent. The intent is to deceive and abuse you. Every “campaign contribution”, while it may be entirely legal, is an attempt to bribe. And the intent of every VNR is to play you for a chump. The specific goal may vary, from getting you to vote for one politicla party over another, or to send your kid off to die in a foreign land, or to trick you out of house and home.

But always always, the reality is that someone with cash wants something that you don’t, and they will try to trick you into thinking that you want it too.

I fucking hate these people.

It’s not enough to “support alternative media”, although you probably should. Whenever possible, we need to mock, expose, undermine, subvert, and utlimately replace the mainstream media.

Posted by Jake on March 13, 2005 9:33 pm

2 Comments »

  1. The fake news phenomenon is far bigger than this current White House abuse. I cover this issue in my consumer guide for the switched-on citizen: We Know What You Want ISBN: 1932857052
    My book also uncovers unethical practices in data mining, viral marketing, supermarkets, governments and white collar cults.

    Comment by Martin Howard — March 14, 2005 @ 1:14 pm

  2. Wow. First time here [can’t think of a name that would have pulled me in faster than ‘lying media bastrds’ lol].
    Just starting to delve into everything here, but you’re directly on target. It’s baffling to me just how many supposedly informed people are absolutely clueless [or in denial] about the butchered state of our media ownership laws. Thank you so much for providing another voice to the growing choir of people determined to refocus the debate on the actual issue - Corporate profits and unification of message in support of them. As William Jennings
    Bryan said
    The first thing to understand is the difference between the natural person and the fictitious person called a corporation. They differ in the purpose for which they are created, in the strength which they possess, and in the restraints under which they act.

    Man is the handiwork of God and was placed upon earth to carry out a Divine purpose; the corporation is the handiwork of man and created to carry out a money-making policy.

    There is comparatively little difference in the strength of men; a corporation may be one hundred, one thousand, or even one million times stronger than the average man. Man acts under the restraints of conscience, and is influenced also by a belief in a future life. A corporation has no soul and cares nothing about the hereafter. …

    A corporation has no rights except those given it by law. It can exercise no power except that conferred upon it by the people through legislation, and the people should be as free to withhold as to give, public interest and not private advantage being the end in view.

    – William Jennings Bryan
    address to the Ohio 1912 Constitutional Convention

    and of course, this from Milton Friedman: “The corporation CANNOT be ethical, it’s only responsibility is to
    make a profit.”

    Thx so much for LMB - Can’t wait to keep reading…..

    Comment by Michael Compton — March 16, 2005 @ 2:00 pm

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