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.
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